Julie James MS, Minister for Climate Change
Our Programme for Government, published in June 2021, set out a commitment to introduce a Clean Air Bill for Wales, consistent with World Health Organisation guidance and extend the provision of air quality monitoring.
I am pleased to publish the summary of responses to our White Paper on a Clean Air (Wales) Bill. We are very grateful for the detailed information provided, which demonstrated a real demand for this legislation and a sense of urgency for action.
Air quality affects us all, in every aspect of our lives. It is the greatest environmental risk to public health. It also affects our wider environment and can have significant impacts on the most vulnerable in our society. We need to equip all parts of society with the tools they need to tackle air pollution for current and future generations. A Clean Air Act for Wales is a key commitment in our Clean Air Plan for Wales: Healthy Air, Healthy Wales. It will allow us to work better across local and national government and with stakeholders to improve air quality and reduce the impacts of air pollution on human health, nature, the environment, and our economy. The Bill will also support our wider plans to address the climate and nature emergencies. Consequently, in developing our proposals we are building on our existing links with colleagues and stakeholders across a wide range of policy areas including public health, climate change and biodiversity.
The White Paper set out proposals to enhance both national and local government’s ability to tackle poor air quality. We received 73 responses from a variety of sources. In addition, we have taken account of opinions provided at an online engagement event on the White Paper’s proposals held on 11 March 2021. Overall, feedback to legislative proposals in the consultation was extremely positive. I am particularly heartened by the level of engagement from a wide range of stakeholders, as everyone, from individuals in their local communities to the businesses underpinning the Welsh economy, has a role to play if we are to achieve our aims.
The large number of responses received to the White Paper has given us a valuable evidence base to further inform proposals for the Clean Air Bill. Given the scale of the challenge I fully anticipate that tough choices will be needed to deliver bold action to improve air quality in Wales. The rich feedback we received on the White Paper is enabling us to develop and build consensus around the legislative proposals and pave a way for action across Wales to improve air quality.
The Clean Air Bill is scheduled for introduction during the second year of this Senedd term. This legislation is a crucial step in achieving our ambition to improve air quality and reduce the negative impacts of air pollution on human health, biodiversity, the environment, and our economy.
We continue to work with our stakeholders and partners to develop and implement this important air quality legislation.