Skip to main content

Air Quality (Legislative Functions) (Amendment) Regulations 2021

Volume 812: debated on Wednesday 19 May 2021

Considered in Grand Committee

Moved by

That the Grand Committee do consider the Air Quality (Legislative Functions) (Amendment) Regulations 2021.

My Lords, before you today are the Air Quality (Legislative Functions) (Amendment) Regulations 2021, which were laid before this House on 22 March. The Government are committed to continuing our high standards of industrial pollution reporting. All the changes introduced by this instrument are technical and are required to ensure that the United Kingdom’s industrial pollution reporting remains relevant and up to date, reflecting scientific, technical and international progress.

These regulations make amendments to our regulations on pollutant release transfer registers, or PRTRs, and specifically a piece of retained direct EU law. The original regulation 166/2006 was amended on EU exit and provides for a PRTR to be maintained for the United Kingdom in the form of a publicly accessible electronic database. Now that the transition period has ended, this EU-derived legislation otherwise risks being left partially ineffective, should there be a rapid industrial or technological change.

These regulations amend the PRTR regulation to confer two powers. The first power will enable the Secretary of State and the devolved Administrations to make regulations on reporting on releases of pollutants from diffuse sources. Diffuse pollution can be caused by a variety of activities that have no specific point of discharge, or are difficult to place at a specific location. The appropriate authority can do this if it determines that no data on the release from diffuse sources exists, and it must use internationally approved methodologies where appropriate.

The second power means that the Secretary of State can amend annexe II of the PRTR regulation for the purposes of adapting it to scientific or technical progress, or to reflect any future amendments to the Kiev protocol on PRTRs. I assure the Committee that this power could be used only for that purpose. Annexe II of the PRTR regulation sets out a list of pollutants and threshold values which, if exceeded, operators of industrial facilities are required to report any releases of the pollutants to air, land or water.

Both these powers are limited in their scope and can be exercised only for specified purposes. These powers are critical to ensure that the UK Government and devolved Administrations can act quickly to strengthen pollution reporting on emerging scientific or technical evidence—for instance, should there be a new pollutant on which it is in the public interest to report pollution information. It is therefore appropriate for these powers to be exercisable by secondary legislation.

These powers also ensure that the Government can reflect in UK legislation any changes made to the Kiev protocol on PRTRs so that we can continue to meet our obligations as a party to the protocol. We anticipate that any future changes to the protocol will strengthen parties’ reporting to better fulfil the aims of the protocol, rather than being fundamental changes to the principles of the protocol.

These powers mean that future technical changes to the regulations can be made with secondary legislation, which is the most proportionate approach. Such amending legislation would be subject to the negative procedure, which would allow appropriate scrutiny, given the technical nature of any changes.

The PRTR regulation will continue to function similarly to how it always has, but with UK authorities now having legislative functions under the regulation. I should make it clear that all the amendments introduced by this instrument are technical operability amendments to maintain the effectiveness of this important UK industrial emissions reporting obligation. These regulations maintain existing regulatory standards and do not create new policy.

Provision for the transfer of powers for PRTR was included in the Environment and Wildlife (Legislative Functions) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019. However, the PRTR regulation was amended in EU law after the 2019 EU exit statutory instrument was made, which meant that the PRTR part of the EU exit statutory instrument no longer operated as intended. Therefore, further amendments to the PRTR regulation are needed to ensure that the transfers of legislative powers are reinstated and have effect as intended following EU exit.

This instrument is subject to the affirmative procedure as it involves the transfer of powers. Furthermore, because the instrument does not alter existing reporting, it was not subject to consultation. There has been no need to conduct an impact assessment for this instrument, in line with published guidance, because there is no foreseen impact on the private or voluntary sector as the instrument relates to maintenance of existing regulatory standards, and there are no direct or cost impacts from these regulations.

This statutory instrument forms part of our important air quality and industrial emissions legislation. Noble Lords will be aware of other important legislation we have introduced to improve air quality. For instance, the new legislation restricting the sale of the most polluting fuels used in domestic burning came into force on 1 May 2021. This will restrict the sale of traditional house coal, small volumes of wet wood and high sulphur manufactured solid fuels.

In addition, our ground-breaking Environment Bill will protect and improve the environment for future generations. The Bill will improve air quality by setting a duty to introduce a legally binding target to reduce fine particulate matter—PM2.5—which is the most damaging pollutant to human health. I beg to move.

My Lords, I thank the Minister for his explanation. I declare an interest: I have just retired as president of Environmental Protection UK, which almost started its life as the National Society For Clean Air, and I am still a vice-president. Therefore, anything with “air quality” in the title attracts my attention.

I have to confess that I first put my name down for this debate under a bit of a misapprehension. The title of this SI, with its reference to legislative functions, implied to me that we might get to know which of the functions hitherto carried out by the European Commission and its agencies would be transferred to which UK bodies and regulators. Indeed, I hoped that we might get a clearer idea than is apparent from either the latest version of Defra’s air quality strategy or the text of the Environment Bill—in its present form at least—on which authorities will be responsible for the regulations and the enforcement of which bits of that strategy, thus indicating which public authorities would be responsible for those functions that previously rested with the European institutions. I hoped that we could get some clarification with this SI, but no such luck.

As the Minister explained, the SI deals with a much wider issue in a sense, but also a much narrower one. The wider context is that we are now internationally a party to the UNECE agreement on dangerous pollution registration as an independent signatory, having previously been party via our membership of the EU and the European pollutant release and transfer register. We therefore have little leeway on a long-standing international agreement under the Aarhus convention, transposed into EU law, as I understand it, in 2006.

What is before us is also narrower because the main obligation under it is not on government bodies but on the industrial operators to maintain their register of pollution and waste release, leakages and transfers. But, of course, this registration system requires government bodies to oversee its operation, and it is not clear even from what the Minister said, let alone the text, which government bodies we are talking about. The crude transfer from the European Commission to the Secretary of State does not answer that question—which body in practice is, as the text says, the “appropriate authority”? Is it Defra? Is it the Environment Agency? Is it local authorities, which generally bear the brunt of air quality enforcement in practice? Is this UK-wide? What are the responsibilities of the devolved Governments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, all of which have direct regulatory relations with the relevant operators that have to maintain registers under these provisions? Even if it is England only, it is not all that clear who is responsible.

I was for a number of years a Minister in Defra and its predecessor departments, and then for six years a member of the board of the Environment Agency. I briefly had responsibility for air quality at Defra, but in the six years I was on the Environment Agency board, every year we considered a chart of our performance against our KSIs. Most of the achievements were amber and many gratifyingly green, but on air quality, year after year, they were red, and that never changed. The reason for that lay not in the responsibilities of the Environment Agency itself, nor, indeed, of the local authorities of which the Environment Agency had oversight, but because the largest air-quality issues were largely problems for the Department for Transport or its agencies, or for BEIS or whatever the department covering energy and construction was called at the time. In other words, the department and agency which were formally responsible for air quality strategy had no jurisdiction over the largest problems of air-quality pollution and health hazards—road transport being the largest, but there were also major contributions by static machinery on construction and energy sites.

The issue of what is the appropriate authority goes beyond this particular SI, and we may need to return to it at a later stage. We need eventually to be clear on this. I hope that we will be before we start substantive discussion on the Environment Bill, but I have to tell Ministers that in its present form, the Bill is not clear on air quality.

I have just a couple of other questions. First, the UNECE agreement prevents signatories from deleting pollutants from the list but allows signatories—previously the EU and now the UK—to add to the list for their jurisdictions. Do Her Majesty’s Government at present have any plans to add to the list or to change the thresholds for reporting that are in Annexe 2, Article 5 of the protocol?

Some of those thresholds seem very high for releases into the atmosphere per annum, and some of the releases into water and soil really ought to be banned altogether in a sustainable system. The whole issue of what is the threshold for reporting probably needs to be addressed now that we have “taken back control” of our rules. Otherwise, a number of smaller entities that release pollutants and waste will not really be covered. Do the Government have plans to review the thresholds and, if so, will that be part of the Environment Bill, or will it be later?

Lastly, I go back to the devolution issue. We talk about “appropriate agencies”. Are decisions in this area to be taken by Defra and/or the Environment Agency, which are the key entities for England, or are we to have a four-nation framework, under which all four UK Governments will take an agreed position? If there is not a unified position, the companies obliged to run the register will be required to do so in a number of different jurisdictions. They will find that bureaucratically difficult if there are marginally different criteria north and south of the Tweed, or east and west of Offa’s Dyke, for example. Even if the criteria are the same, the duty to record the register and provide it to the appropriate authority will be fourfold rather than, as currently, a single reporting system.

As I said, I was under a bit of a misapprehension as to how wide this SI went, but it raises some of those problems. I am happy to nod the SI through this afternoon, but we will need some clarification of those issues—if not today, I ask the Minister to consider it in the course of the passage of the Environment Bill, if not before.

My Lords, I thank my noble friend for his clear explanation of these rather complicated regulations. I welcome them and am pleased they do not represent a weakening of existing protections. As we have heard, the amendments proposed concern provisions of Regulation 166/2006 that confer supervisory powers on the Commission, and transfer them to the Secretary of State. However, as the primary reporting obligations fall on operators, this is not the self-regulatory shift that we have seen introduced in some other SIs that have been tabled as a result of our leaving the EU.

As with the noble Lord, Lord Whitty, when I see air quality mentioned it attracts my attention. I know that this Government, in particular my noble friend, take the whole issue of air quality seriously. I therefore hope, as we have already heard, that we will see more legislation in the Environment Bill that will ensure that we maintain and improve our air quality, and that it remains a government priority.

I have been raising these issues for a long time, from when I was in the other place. When I have done so it has often been related to the proximity of where I live to Heathrow Airport and the M4. I am afraid to say that those problems still exist, as we all know. Like many last year, I noticed the real improvement during lockdown when traffic and air traffic were at a minimum. The air actually tasted better, if that does not sound too dramatic.

While recognising that this is a debate on a statutory instrument, I hope that I may be allowed a gentle and brief foray into some other air quality issues that I hope we can address in the Environment Bill. After all, my noble friend mentioned some of the things that the Government were doing. One issue that I and the noble Lord, Lord Whitty, pushed on in the Agriculture Act was that of pesticides. We urgently need regulations to prohibit the application of chemical pesticides near buildings and spaces used by residents and members of the public, with the aim of improving air quality and protecting human health and the environment in rural areas. This is a matter of urgency. Although we have received assurances that regulations already in force amply protect the public, I am afraid that I am still far from convinced. Perhaps I, other noble Lords and some campaigners may have the opportunity to discuss this matter with my noble friend during or before the passage of the Environment Bill in your Lordships’ House.

A final plea before I close my comments is again to ask the Government seriously to consider including the World Health Organization PM2.5 limit value as a minimum level of ambition for the air quality target in the Bill. I heard what my noble friend said and I hope that we can put that in legislation.

With those friendly shots across the ministerial ship’s bows, I reiterate that I welcome these regulations.

My Lords, it is a pleasure to follow my noble friend Lord Randall, who has done so much good work in this area for so long. I thank my noble friend the Minister for his clear explanation of this SI, which of course I support. I am grateful to him for all the work that he is doing on these important issues.

Air quality needs to be measured and we must ensure that our industrial pollutants are properly registered. I am pleased that we aim to fulfil the Kiev protocol on PRTRs. I echo the question from the noble Lord, Lord Whitty, as to whether there are any plans to potentially improve on some of the targets set by the international protocols.

I should also like to congratulate the Government on the already-achieved reduction in air pollution with, for example, nitrogen oxides reportedly having fallen by about a third since 2010 and emissions of fine particulate matter, which is so damaging, having fallen by around 10% since then. Indeed, our clean air strategy, published in 2019, was praised by the World Health Organization as an example for the rest of the world to follow. In that context, therefore, does my noble friend the Minister have plans to continue to be world-leading and is he considering any other measures that could pave the way for others to follow?

We have air pollution from transport, industry, solid fuel heating and cleaning products. It is the single greatest environmental risk to human health, particularly given the problem of nitrogen dioxide and its concentration around our roads. Can my noble friend comment on any further actions that are planned for local authorities to monitor and control their local emissions and report back to government on the overall developments in this area?

Clearly, we urgently need cleaner and healthier air, especially if we want to improve the health of the nation, which is one of the major aims that I hope we will foster as a result of the pandemic and the terrible impacts it has had. Again, especially with respect to fine particulate matter, which is so damaging to the elderly, children or others susceptible to asthma and lung problems, which have been such a particular drawback for human health during this Covid outbreak, have the Government measured the reductions in emissions that may have resulted from lockdown? Have they any report on what has happened to air quality in, for example, London and major cities? Has this been measured? Have any improvements been noted? Have any resulting benefits to human health been measured? Perhaps that is too difficult. On any of these questions I am of course happy for my noble friend to write to me if he does not have the answers to hand. I apologise that I did not give him prior notice of these questions.

What impact does my noble friend anticipate the Government’s extension of electric vehicles across our vehicle fleet might have on our air pollution? Indeed, too often one hears the suggestion that electric cars are not such a great benefit to the environment because, although they themselves may not emit carbon, they are particularly involved with carbon emissions in their production. Does my noble friend agree that actually that omits one of the other huge potential advantages of switching to electric vehicles and away from diesel or petrol cars: the improvement in air quality as pollutant emissions are reduced? That in itself can be a significant contributor to improvements in air quality.

I welcome this SI. I am glad to see the Government’s commitment to improving air quality and our environmental credentials. I look forward to hearing my noble friend’s response.

My Lords, I am delighted to support the regulations before us and to follow my noble friend Lady Altmann. My enthusiasm and excitement for hybrid and electric vehicles are strongly tempered by their cost, the inability to charge them up in rural areas and the rising cost of insurance, which I understand is significant for hybrid and electric vehicles.

I welcome the measures before us to reduce industrial pollution much more than some of the Government’s measures referred to by my noble friend the Minister, who so eloquently presented the regulations. The measures I hesitate more over are those that will negatively impact on rural areas, such as those restricting the sale of traditional household coal and small volumes of wet wood, as well as of solid fuels. These need to be considered with great care, particularly weighing up what the impact will be on deeply rural areas, particularly those that are vulnerable to cold spells, such as the north of England.

I support a number of the issues that the noble Lord, Lord Whitty, raised, in particular understanding the Government’s role in amending and changing the categories in the UNECE protocol. In this regard, is there an opportunity to amend them in the forthcoming COP? If that is the case, could my noble friend the Minister identify which countries, including our erstwhile partners in the European Union, are likely to support such an amendment?

Perhaps my greatest concern is how we can ensure that these amendments today and the broader thrust of the government measures, most of which I welcome, to improve air quality will be implemented and enforced. All of us who are familiar with and have worked with environmental law over the past 20 or 30 years know the role of the European Commission as the safeguard of the treaty obligations into which we have entered. I understand that today’s regulations transpose those, as agreed in Regulation 166/2006 of the European Parliament and the Council, to which my noble friend referred in outlining the regulations this afternoon.

There is a very real issue here: for the first time—this is something that we should welcome, if we could only understand it more fully—we are going to cover public authorities in the round and their environmental responsibilities. Many of us are familiar with water companies and farmers who are heavily censored for any spillage or pollution. It is currently unclear—it really is a lacuna—who is applying the rules in the event of a breach of the air quality rules as currently exist and will apply these regulations if we adopt them today. If it is to be the office for environmental protection, I would welcome that, but we have not yet had the chance to consider what its role, staffing and resources will be and what the relationship will be between the office for environmental protection and other bodies such as the Environment Agency and Natural England.

As the noble Lord, Lord Whitty, asked—and I know it causes great concern across the devolved nations—are we going to have disparity in the way that regulations such as these will be implemented in the four nations of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, as we are going to have at least three offices of environmental protection operating? In welcoming the regulations and enthusiastically supporting the positive approach that both the Minister and the department are taking in this regard, I believe we have a long way to go to ensure that any breaches of these air quality regulations are firmly stamped on and that we, and those who might be accused of transgressing, actually understand what the remit of the OEP and other bodies will be. I welcome the regulations.

My Lords, as we have heard, this SI makes amendments to retained direct EU legislation relating to air quality under Section 8 of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018. This is to ensure that it continues to operate effectively, as the Minister outlined. It is important to note that the corrections that are being made through restatement are necessary to clarify the retained direct EU law covered by the SI. The instrument is designed to ensure that the legislation operates properly.

As the Minister outlined in his helpful introduction, this SI will allow UK authorities to operate specific legislative functions in the UK to ensure that the regime of the retained direct EU law continues to function smoothly without the need for further primary legislation every time a change is required. The SI is specific and focused and, as the Minister said, does not make changes to substantive policy content. It is a technical set of regulations. If we look at the proposed amendment, however, it states that the “appropriate authority” could make regulations governing the release and transfer of emissions from diffuse point sources; but the purpose of the provision remains the same, which is to allow for the collection and provision of missing data.

As my noble friend Lord Whitty asked, which bodies in practice will be the appropriate authorities? It is not clear from this SI, and it is critical that we understand where responsibilities lie in the issue of air pollution, both in England and, as my noble friend mentioned, in the devolved Administrations, where that is appropriate. The noble Baroness, Lady McIntosh of Pickering, also asked for more information in this area, including on the important question of what happens when there is a breach and who is responsible.

Having said all that, however, this SI is a classic case of Her Majesty’s Government having to correct a previous error. Paragraph 2.4 of the Explanatory Memorandum states that the amendments contained in the previous instrument

“did not operate as intended.”

We support these corrections, of course, by way of restatement, but we would like to draw attention yet again to the fact that this is not the first time that Defra has identified and then had to correct issues in the body of retained EU law. I know that many would say that teething problems are inevitable. But does the Minister agree that when errors happen over and over again and have to be corrected, no matter how minor they are, it undermines confidence in the integrity of the statute book?

As we have already noted, this SI is specific and focused. However, as others have noted, air pollution remains a major public health challenge. The Opposition will be looking very closely at this important issue during the passage of the Environment Bill, because we are concerned, as my noble friend Lord Whitty said, about the responsibilities of the appropriate authorities and the resources that will be supplied to them in order for them to carry out their jobs effectively and efficiently. We also have concerns on the issue of pesticides, which was raised by the noble Lord, Lord Randall of Uxbridge. The noble Baroness, Lady Altmann, raised the issue of transport emissions—again, critical for us to tackle if we are to resolve the issue of severe air pollution.

The Environment Bill will give us an opportunity to properly address and tackle the shocking levels of air pollution in parts of our country that lead to so much ill health, particularly among our young and vulnerable people—and sadly, on some occasions, to early death. I finish by welcoming the regulations and saying that I look forward to working constructively with the Minister and other noble Lords.

My Lords, I thank Members of the Committee who have contributed to today’s debate. The UK continues to support the UNECE Kiev protocol and to publish industrial pollution release and waste transfer data on an annual basis. I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Hayman, for her support for this instrument. As she said, it is vital that we keep our UK PRTR up to date according to technical, scientific or international developments, and all the changes introduced by this instrument are necessary to enable this to happen. My understanding in relation to one of her points is that we are not actually correcting an error but reinstating giving of powers to the appropriate authorities.

In answer to questions from the noble Lord, Lord Whitty, which were also raised by the noble Baroness, Lady Hayman, about the division of these powers between devolved Administrations and the Secretary of State, the power to change the annexes of the PRTR have been transferred to the Secretary of State. The power to update the reporting of diffuse sources has been transferred to the appropriate authorities, which include the Secretary of State and devolved Administrations—but the Secretary of State can act with the consent of the DAs.

We have agreed with the devolved Administrations that it is important to continue to have a single UK PRTR, which will ensure the uniformity of this important industrial pollution release and transfer register. Therefore, the power has been given to the Secretary of State to exercise for the whole of the UK, with the consent of the DAs. The updates would be triggered if there were scientific and technical progress or updates to international agreements that needed to be reflected in the reporting parameters. If each UK Administration worked to different technical annexes, there would be a risk to the uniform UK PRTR approach and a single coherent register would not be possible.

The power to take measures to initiate reporting on releases of relevant pollutants from diffuse sources where no data exists has been transferred to the appropriate authorities—the Secretary of State, the Welsh Ministers, the Scottish Ministers and the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs—to exercise in their respective areas. The Secretary of State can also exercise the function for a devolved Administration, with their consent. Although we do not have any plans to update the list of pollutants, we closely consider technical and scientific evidence that will inform possible future changes.

On the timing of these regulations, a question raised by a number of noble Lords, the vast majority of legislation needed for EU exit was made prior to finishing the transition period. The transfer of powers for PRTR was completed alongside other environmental legislation in 2019, via the Environment and Wildlife (Legislative Functions) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019 (S.I. 2019/473). However, new PRTR legislation adopted since that SI inadvertently reversed the effect of the previous statutory instrument, meaning that the Secretary of State’s powers needed to be reinstated. This is the earliest opportunity to lay and debate this legislation.

I reiterate for the Committee that the legislation will not change PRTR reporting. These regulations maintain existing regulatory standards and do not create new policy or change any aspects of the PRTR reporting. These regulations just ensure that the UK statute book remains operable now that we have left the European Union. Any future changes that are made to PRTR reporting are more appropriate for Ministers to make through secondary legislation, with parliamentary scrutiny throughout the process. This will be the best use of parliamentary time, given the technical nature of updates which will be made, which will be made only if there is technical or scientific evidence to suggest an update is needed, or if the PRTR protocol itself is updated. We anticipate that any future changes to the protocol will be to strengthen parties’ reporting to better fulfil the aims of the protocol, rather than fundamental changes to the principles of the protocol. Therefore, updates to reporting parameters will be best managed through secondary legislation instead of primary legislation.

With regard to the international origins of this legislation, the UK is continuing to work with other countries on PRTRs through the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe—UNECE—and the OECD.

We undertook a call for views on the UK’s implementation of the Kiev protocol on PRTRs last year, and no responses raised concerns or issues with the accessibility of publicly available information. This regulation is an important part of our wider legislation on air quality and industrial emissions. Our commitment to air quality and industrial emissions is also, as a number of noble Lords commented, underpinned by our ambitious environmental agenda, including our 25-year environment plan and our clean air strategy, which has been praised by the WHO as

“an example for the rest of the world to follow”.

We are delivering a £3.8 billion plan to clean up transport and tackle NO2 pollution and going further in protecting communities from air pollution, particularly PM2.5 which is especially harmful to human health. Through the Environment Bill we are also setting ambitious new air quality targets, with a focus on reducing public health impacts.

In response to my noble friend Lord Randall of Uxbridge, of course we want a dramatic reduction in the use of pesticides. However, pesticides are authorised for use when scientific assessment demonstrates that this will not cause harm to human health. Pesticide users are required to take all reasonable precautions to protect human health and the environment and to confine the product to the area intended to be treated. When using a pesticide in areas used by the public or vulnerable groups, operators must also ensure that the amount and frequency of use is as low as reasonably practicable. Pesticide users must follow the statutory conditions of use for every pesticide they use. However, as I say, we absolutely want to see a dramatic reduction in their use.

On Heathrow, we have worked together for many years on this issue and noble Lords know my views. The Government have been clear that it is a private sector project which must meet strict criteria on air quality, noise and climate change, as well as being privately funded and delivered in the best interest of consumers. It is now down to an applicant to demonstrate that it can meet all those criteria.

Also in response to my noble friend Lord Randall, our landmark Environment Bill will improve air quality by establishing a duty to set a target to reduce fine particulate matter—PM2.5—alongside a further long-term target on air quality as part of the wider framework for setting legally binding environmental targets. The Government are committed to evidence-based policy-making and will consider the World Health Organization guideline level for PM2.5 as we approach setting the targets, alongside independent expert advice, evidence and analysis on a diversity of factors.

Finally on this point, following comments by my noble friend Lady Altmann, it is important to set out the Government’s record on and commitment to improving air quality. Air pollution at a national level has reduced significantly since 2010. Emissions of fine particulate matter—PM2.5—have fallen by 11%, while emissions of nitrogen oxides are at their lowest level since records began. She asked about the impact of lockdown. I am afraid that I cannot give her the precise figures at this point, but I shall follow this up. We know that NO2 fell during lockdown, but we also know that levels are now rising again, unfortunately, as traffic increases. She also asked about the efficacy of electric vehicles. Certainly, they are a critically important part of the transition, but we are continuing to invest in research to ensure that we fully and properly understand all aspects of the issue.

Again in response to my noble friend Lady Altmann, while emissions continue to improve year on year, we know of course that there is much more to do. She asked what steps we were planning to take, and I have mentioned some already. Our clean air strategy outlines a package of measures across the whole economy to meet our 2030 commitments and the Environment Bill contains the new legal framework to do this. We have a strong pipeline of action, including on particulate matter, controlling emissions from domestic burning and, also on particulate matter, work to establish new air pollution targets. We are continuing to tackle emissions from agriculture following our consultation on solid urea fertilisers. We are establishing the most suitable approach for non-road mobile machinery, and we are controlling industrial emissions by driving innovation and enabling regulatory certainty through UK BAT.

Looking forward, we have committed in the Environment Bill to a systematic review of the national strategy, which focuses on local air quality management, aiming to better align national and local policies to deliver air quality improvements, and build the capacity of local delivery partners to effectively tackle localised air quality issues, which is a critical part of the national effort to reduce and address air pollution.

My noble friend Lady McIntosh also raised the issue of electric vehicles. She probably already knows that we are spending £880 million on retrofitting vehicles. Powers in our Environment Bill will enable government to force the recall of vehicles when they do not meet the environmental standards that they are legally required to meet.

As I have outlined, the Air Quality (Legislative Functions) (Amendment) Regulations 2021 make no change to the existing content of the UK industrial reporting or the nature of PRTR legislation. Therefore, I commend the draft regulations to the Committee.

Motion agreed.

Sitting suspended.