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Air Quality

Volume 696: debated on Monday 26 November 2007

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Which local authorities have not submitted an action plan to improve air quality as required by Part IV of the Environment Act 1995. [HL239]

Local authorities have statutory duties for local air quality management (LAQM) under the Environment Act 1995.

Local authorities are required to carry out regular reviews and assessments of air quality in their areas against objectives in the national air quality strategy, which have been prescribed in regulations. Where it is found that these objectives are unlikely to be met, authorities must designate air quality management areas (AQMAs) and prepare and implement remedial action plans to tackle the problem. Defra requires local authorities that have AQMAs to produce an action plan between 12 and 18 months following designation of their AQMA, as set out in policy guidance LAQM.PG(03). Authorities have been required to take account of the guidance in carrying out their duties since February 2003.

Defra also encourages authorities whose draft action plan primarily relates to local road transport to integrate them into their local transport plan (LTP). A number of local authorities have taken the opportunity to do so.

Most local authorities have met the deadlines and have submitted their action plan to Defra. To date Defra has received 157 action plans from local authorities. However, 18 authorities have yet to produce an action plan.

Where local authorities are late in providing plans, Defra officials seek explanations for the delay. My officials have maintained correspondence with the authorities and recently contacted the authorities to remind them about their overdue action plans requesting that they update Defra on progress.

My department will continue to work to ensure that local authorities fulfil their responsibilities under the local air quality management process effectively and within the specified deadlines as far as possible.

I have arranged for a table, detailing progress to date, to be placed in the House Library. In some cases, the department has agreed to extensions to the original deadlines.