Sustrans response to DEFRA's annual report update on Air Pollutant Concentration statistics in the UK

People walking and cycling in a city

©2017, Jonathan Bewely,

25 April 2019

Today the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has released its annual report update on Air Pollutant Concentration statistics in the UK.

Commenting on the report, Dr Andy Cope, Director of Research and Monitoring at Sustrans, the walking and cycling charity, said: “The report from DEFRA indicates that overall levels of pollution have shown long-term improvement. However, we are concerned that roadside nitrogen oxide (NO2) and particulate matter (PM10) pollution is still high, with around 80 percent of NO2 concentrations coming from local transport sources.

“Air pollution is a real threat to people’s health as well as to the natural environment, contributing to rising annual temperatures.

“If we are really serious about improving the quality of the air we breathe, we need to make lifestyle choices that contribute to a reduction of harmful emissions. In transport terms, we need to put an end to the chronic traffic congestion our on roads and our over-dependence on single passenger motor transport.

“There is no ‘safe’ level of pollution. The UK Government can and must take action on air pollution now.

“We urgently need a new clean air legislation which sets new binding targets for air quality and brings together transport, health and environment policies to prioritise prevention work to support clean air across the UK. At the heart of this we want to see investment in cleaner, healthier means of transportation, including walking and cycling, and initiatives such as Ultra Low Emission Zone and school street closures to help people choose walking and cycling for their regular journeys.”