Lesley Griffiths, Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Rural Affairs
Today I am launching a 12-week public consultation on how Wales can do better in the management of air and noise pollution.
There are 2 objectives for the consultation. Firstly, we are seeking views on a number of specific proposals to be implemented by spring 2017. These proposals were developed in discussion with air quality and noise teams in local authorities, Public Health Wales and Natural Resources Wales. They focus primarily on refreshing, through new statutory guidance, the local air quality management (LAQM) regime established by the Environment Act 1995. This long-standing, UK-wide system requires local authorities to monitor air quality, identify areas non-compliant with the national air quality objectives and implement local air quality action plans leading to compliance with those objectives. The current LAQM regime has been successful in identifying a large number of pollution hotspots, however, it has had limited success in eradicating them.
We need to break down the barriers to effective action on local air quality. Our new legislation under the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015 and the Environment (Wales) Act 2016 will help to drive the changes needed. The proposals in the consultation stress the importance of policy integration and the immediate and long-term health benefits to be gained by reducing pollution exposure across the entire population alongside action on localised pollution hotspots.
The second element of the consultation exercise asks what else should be done to tackle airborne pollution. Air pollution affects the health outcomes of communities across Wales and it is vital we work together and address these concerns.
The level of protection afforded to human health and the environment must not decrease as a consequence of our leaving the European Union. With the drive and momentum brought through the Well-being of Future Generations Act and our new Environment Act, I am confident we have the tools in place to identify and implement the solutions required.