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expert reaction to government’s draft UK Air Quality Plan for tackling nitrogen dioxide

DEFRA and the Department of Transport have published their new strategy to improve air quality in the UK.


Prof Jonathan Grigg, Professor of Paediatric Respiratory and Environmental Medicine, Blizard Institute, Queen Mary University of London (QMUL), said:

“Since this proposed plan has been developed to ‘avoid undue impact on the motorist’, it is not surprising that the ambitious option of removing the current toxic diesel fleet from all UK roads by 2025 is not a key component.

“Given that previous initiatives that have not directly targeted diesel emissions have failed dismally in the past, I am not confident that these proposed local interventions, however innovative, will achieve a step reduction in exposure of vulnerable populations, such as young children.”


Prof. Ian Colbeck, Professor of Environmental Science, University of Essex, said:

“The Government has basically placed the ball in the court of Local Authorities to tackle air pollution without any guarantee of additional funds. Congestion charging, a possible source of funding, should only be used a last resort. One interesting suggestion is the revision of information to car buyers to include NOx emissions. However there is currently no idea how best to do this as well as the on-going debate about on-road versus manufacturers’ figures.”


* ‘Improving air quality in the UK: tackling nitrogen dioxide in our towns and cities; Draft UK Air Quality Plan for tackling nitrogen dioxide – May 2017’ was published by Defra and the Department for Transport on Friday 5 May 2017:

Technical Report:



Declared interests

Prof. Jonathan Grigg: Jonathan is also Founding member of Doctors against Diesel.

Prof. Ian Colbeck: “Member: Institute of Physics, Royal Meteorological Society, The Aerosol Society, International Society of Indoor Air Quality and Climate.  Funding: NERC, EU.  Voluntary appointments: Essex Air Quality Consortium.”

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