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Julie James MS, Minister for Climate Change

First published:
20 March 2023
Last updated:

Today, the Environment (Air Quality and Soundscapes) (Wales) Bill (‘the Bill’) and Explanatory Memorandum has been laid before Senedd Cymru (‘the Senedd’).

This Bill is a key step in bringing forward measures that will contribute to improvements in the quality of the air environment in Wales and reduce the impacts of air pollution on human health, biodiversity, the natural environment and our economy.

The Bill covers eight different topics.  In summary, it will:

  • provide a framework for setting national air quality targets;
  • amend existing legislation relating to:
    • the national air quality strategy,
    • local air quality management,
    • smoke control,
    • trunk road charging schemes; and
    • vehicle idling;
  • place a duty on Welsh Ministers to promote awareness of air pollution;
  •  place a duty on Welsh Ministers to publish a national soundscape strategy, and
  • give the Welsh Ministers a power to amend existing legislation relating to noise.

By including soundscapes within the proposals in the Bill, Welsh Ministers are delivering on their objective to create and pursue any opportunities to further align noise, soundscape and air quality policy. Through this Bill, Wales will be the first part of the UK to include soundscape in legislation.

The Bill needs to be seen in a broad context, and not in isolation. It is a crucial part of a package of measures set out in our Clean Air Plan to reduce airborne pollution and improve the air environment in Wales.

As part of this package of measures, the Bill will facilitate improvements in the quality of our air environment at a Wales-wide level, at a local and regional level and throughout society. It will also contribute to our response to the climate and nature emergencies, alongside efforts to reduce inequalities.

By introducing this legislation, we also aim to maximise our contribution to the sustainable development principle of the Well-being of Future Generations Act 2015 (WFGA) to improve the economic, social, environmental and cultural well-being of Wales.

Members of the Senedd have been calling for a Clean Air Bill for Wales. We have worked closely with the Cross-Party Group on a Clean Air Act for Wales to consider their views as we have developed the proposals for the Environment (Air Quality and Soundscapes) (Wales) Bill. I look forward to working with Members and stakeholders on the Bill’s proposals in the coming months.