On Tuesday, environment secretary Dr Thérèse Coffey launched the Government’s Environmental Improvement Plan 2023 which is – in Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s words – a ‘blueprint for how we will deliver our commitment to leave our environment in a better state than we found it ‘.

As part of the plan, local authorities were challenged to improve air quality ‘more quickly and tackle key hotspots.’

Dr Coffey said: ‘We have cleaner air. I want it to be even cleaner. Now, I would have loved to have made our target to achieve 10 micrograms by 2030, not 2040.

‘Many parts of the country already enjoy this but the evidence shows us that with the best will in the world, we cannot achieve that everywhere by the end of the decade – particularly in London.

‘Councils ask for a lot of powers. I need them to use the powers they already have, including on tackling litter and fly-tipping, rather than just asking for more.’

In response, Cllr David Renard said: ‘Air quality is an important health issue and councils are seeking to reduce air pollution in local communities.

‘However, councils do not hold the important levers to tackle air quality. While the LGA supports new powers for councils to issue civil penalty notices, councils are facing significant funding challenges that will make monitoring and enforcing breaches of limits very challenging.

‘It is important that people are given clear messaging about the health hazards to households and the neighbourhood.

‘The Government also needs to work with a wide range of partners to take the action that removes the sources of air pollution everywhere, so that all communities have the benefits of clean air.’

This article was first published by LocalGov.co.uk.