Call for integrated approach on environmental objectives
Revised Welsh policy guidance is encouraging Welsh councils to merge their pursuit of cleaner air with other environmental objectives.
The local air quality management (LAQM) regime, published on June 15, says that aiming for better air quality should not be conducted “separately from the pursuit of other, related outcomes such as better soundscapes, reduced carbon emissions, safer roads, healthier lifestyles and more resilient ecosystems”.
The guidance instead advises that functions that come under part IV of the Environment Act 1995 be unified with land use and transport planning, environmental permitting, statutory nuisance and other activities that impact on air quality. The demands of the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015 are met by this approach.
The 24-page long Welsh document replaces a previous edition published in March 2016. However, unlike previous versions, it fails to outline the exact procedures for public consultation and the drawing up of action plans - stating that these “need to be tailored to local circumstances”.
It also doesn’t specify or suggest specific actions that need to be taken to improve air quality, as these may change over time and need to be continually modified if stated in the document.
Instead, the document suggests that it should be used in combination with the latest export advice on what works in practice.
Welsh local authorities will now be required to publish draft annual progress reports by October, and in full by the end of 2017 - following a template provided by the Welsh government.
From next year on, these reports will need to state if and how targets on air and noise pollution are being addressed in local authorities’ well-being objectives under the 2015 act, and what policies have been implemented to reduce nitrogen dioxide and noise pollution.
The Welsh government is also continuing to formulate its own framework for clean air zones, as stated in DEFRA’s consultation on hitting NO2 objectives.