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Government efforts to improve air quality as well as quality of life ...
Government efforts to improve air quality as well as quality of life

in the most deprived areas of the country must continue according to

a report published today by the Department of the Environment, Food

and Rural Affairs (DEFRA).

The report shows that in a number of urban areas of the UK the least

affluent members of society tend to be exposed to the highest levels

of air pollution.

Welcoming the report's publication, environment minister Michael

Meacher said:

'Clean air is essential to quality of life. This research shows that

very often the most vulnerable members of society are exposed to the

highest levels of air pollution'

'Many of the measures that we already have in place to improve air

quality are starting to deliver real results in urban areas. The

number of days of poor air quality in urban areas has fallen steadily

over the last decade as emissions from road transport and industry

have fallen. As local authorities start introducing their air quality

action plans over the months ahead, we expect that these will deliver

further improvements to quality of life in the areas affected'.

Key findings of the report were that:

- In London, Birmingham and Belfast, the highest pollution levels

were generally found in the most deprived neighbourhoods.

- In Cardiff, the highest pollution levels were in affluent areas

near the city centre. Some central parts of London also have high

levels of pollution.

- Measures to improve air quality can therefore have a more

pronounced effect in deprived areas and could help to reduce this

social inequality.


1. Copies of the report ('Further Analysis of NO2 and PM10 Air

Pollution and Social Deprivation') are available via DEFRA's air

quality archive website .

2. The report analyses air pollution and social deprivation

datasets for four UK cities (London, Birmingham, Belfast and

Cardiff), and considers the spatial relationship between air

quality and social deprivation. It concludes that in three out of

the four cities (London, Birmingham and Belfast), there are clear

correlations between social deprivation and air pollution, with the

most deprived wards being also, for the most part, those where air

pollution levels tend to be highest. In Cardiff, the pattern is

less clear.

3. The Air Quality Strategy for England, Scotland, Wales and

Northern Ireland, which sets out the air quality policies of the

Government and Devolved Administrations, can be downloaded from the

DEFRA website .

4. The government's 'New Commitment to Neighbourhood Renewal:

National Strategy Action Plan', published in August 2001, sets out

the Government's vision and goals for improving quality of life in

deprived neighbourhoods over the next 10-20 years. The Action Plan

includes a Public Service Agreement target to improve air quality

in the most deprived areas. Copies of the Action Plan are available

here .

5. Where local authorities identify air pollution hotspots, they

are required to designate air quality management areas (AQMAs) and

draw up action plans setting out what they intend to do to improve

their local air quality. Of the four areas studied in the report,

London and Cardiff have already designated AQMAs, with Birmingham

expected to do so shortly.

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