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The Air Quality Strategy for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Published by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs†.

Executive Summary

Air Quality Objectives


International standards and agreements are most important as air pollutants do not respect territorial boundaries. International action is essential to reduce air pollution. The Government’s and the devolved administrations' role in improving air quality is to provide:

Industry is a significant source of some of the pollutants this Strategy tackles. We try as far as possible to take the most appropriate and cost-effective measures for tackling pollution. We are anxious that industry should not be over-burdened compared to other sectors as we move towards meeting the air quality objectives. Regulators will therefore not normally require industry to go beyond the best available techniques not entailing excessive cost (BATNEEC) in order to achieve the national objectives where these are tighter than the EC Environmental Quality Standards which the UK is required to meet.

Road traffic emissions make a significant contribution to levels of air pollution, particularly in towns and cities. The Government's White Paper A New Deal for Transport: Better for Everyone, the parallel White Paper issued in Scotland, Policy Statements issued in Wales and Northern Ireland and their follow up documents describe how we plan to achieve an integrated transport system to cut congestion and pollution. Local authorities are to draw up their own practical strategies for achieving the air quality objectives in their areas.

Authorities have a range of powers they can use in pursuit of air quality objectives. These include Local Air Quality Strategies, smoke control and local traffic powers.Land use planning and the new local transport plans and strategies will also have a direct effect on improving air quality. People also need to be aware that they too can help improve the air they breathe. The Government's Are you doing your bit? campaign shows how relatively small changes in people's everyday behaviour all add up. For example, walking and cycling rather than taking the car, or sharing the school run.

More information about air quality legislation in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland can be found on www.defra.gov.uk and www.environment-agency.gov.uk. For information about European legislation contact the Commission at http://ec.europa.eu/environment/air/index.htm

Current Air Quality Strategy Objectives for the UK
(and EU limit values*)