£50m investment announced to help boost UK air quality

22nd March 2019

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James Pearson

The UK government announced yesterday that it would provide almost £50m in additional funding to help improve air quality across the country.

A total of 14 local authorities were awarded £25m to retrofit 1,817 buses through the Clean Bus Technology Fund, adding to the £40m earmarked last year.

London and Sheffield will benefit from the highest levels of funding after both received £3m, with the upgrades intended to cut nitrogen dioxide emissions in areas with the poorest air quality.

Meanwhile, the Department for Transport said it would also be investing £23m to rejuvenate cycling and walking throughout the UK, driving down emissions and improving road safety.

“This funding will help ensure that everyone can enjoy wonderful routes which connect communities across the UK, and benefit from the huge health and environmental benefits,“ transport secretary, Jesse Norman, said.

Of the cycling and walking investment, £21m will go towards improving on and off-road stretches of the 16,000-mile National Cycle Network spanning Cornwall to the Shetland Isles.

It is estimated that the health benefits associated with walking and cycling on the network prevented 630 early deaths in 2017 alone, and averted nearly 8,000 serious long-term health conditions

The other £2m of investment is designated for broader cycling and walking initiatives, such as the Living Streets Walk to School outreach programme, which encourages young people to walk more from an early age.

The scheme saw walking to school rates increase by 30% last year within schools supported by the scheme, a big step towards the government target of 55% of primary school children walking to school by 2025.

Xavier Brice, chief executive of Sustrans, which runs the National Cycle Network, said: “This investment is a vital boost to achieving a network of safe paths for everyone, used and enjoyed by people of all ages and abilities.

“We look forward to working with local authorities and partner organisations around the country to improve people's health, access to green spaces, and help our villages, towns and cities move sustainably.“

Image credit: iStock


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