Latest on the Air Quality Plan

Latest news on our campaign to make sure everyone, everywhere has safe air to breathe.

5 May 2017

The campaign for Clean Air Everywhere is rapidly developing. We’re working hard to make sure the government’s new Air Quality Plan is strong enough and local Friends of the Earth activists are also making plans for a nationwide Week of Action on air pollution in June.

Below you can follow the latest news on Friends of the Earth’s campaign to make sure everyone, everywhere has safe air to breathe.

For the background on the campaign, scroll to the bottom of the page.


The government released its draft Air Quality Plan at 12 pm today. We’ve looked at the plans and unfortunately they go nowhere near far enough to tackle the air pollution public health crisis.

The plan is breath-takingly short on detail and pushes responsibility to deliver clean air to local councils without giving them the resources to really make a difference. We need well-funded Clean Air Zones where there are illegal levels of pollution, and a robust diesel scrappage scheme to get the worst polluting vehicles off our roads. We’ve unfortunately got neither – so we’ll keep on fighting for better.

And there’s also one big thing missing from the government plans: the car manufacturers. They cheated pollution tests and put dirty diesel cars on our roads. It’s the car manufacturers who should be paying to clear up the mess.

You can read our full press response here.

How do the draft Air Quality Plans shape up?

What is this new plan?

Most areas of the UK are breaching EU legal limits for deadly nitrogen dioxide (NO2) - limits that should originally have been met in 2010. The government has been ordered by the High Court to publish a draft Air Quality Plan to clean up the country’s NO2 pollution. It tried to delay publishing until after the elections but was ordered by the Court to produce a plan by 9 May. The government has to finalise the plan by the end of July.

Why is this important?

40,000 premature deaths are linked to air pollution in the UK each year. Dirty air leads to worsening asthma symptoms, heart disease and even lung cancer, and can lead to children growing up with smaller lungs. Every delay in action costs lives.

What are Friends of the Earth doing in response?

Friends of the Earth has set out a plan for clean air everywhere, outlining the steps government should include in its final Air Quality Plan.

Our call for clean air everywhere outlines what must be included in the government’s air quality plans to end toxic air pollution for good:

  • A plan to end illegal air pollution in 2018
  • A diesel scrappage scheme to help people shift to clean vehicles
  • Changes to road tax to deter diesel use
  • A comprehensive network of plug-in points for electric vehicles by 2025
  • Huge investment in public transport, walking and cycling routes
  • A new Clean Air Act for the whole country to curb all types of air pollution

Friends of the Earth activists are also planning a nationwide Week of Action on Clean Air from 24 June to 2 July.

What can you do?

  • Share the message - we need an Air Quality Plan that means everyone, everywhere has the right to breathe clean air.
  • Put the Week of Action on Clean Air in your diary - 24 June to 2 July.
  • Order a Clean Air Kit and measure the air pollution where you are.