Clean Air

Air pollution has been shown to cause lung cancer, and worsen heart and lung disease. We need to clean up our air now - for our health and our planet.

Friends of the Earth Cymru is a member of Healthy Air Cymru. We have 5 priorities for the Welsh Government.


1. Provide a cross-governmental air quality strategy 

This strategy should include...

  • Provision for an Independent Monitoring & Assessment Network;
  • A National Advisory Board on Air Quality, chaired by the Minister for the Environment which comprises of experts, academia and representatives from NGOs, local authorities and high polluting sectors (like transport and energy).
  • A charging Clean Air Zone for Cardiff, with Swansea and Newport councils mandated to undertake feasibility studies on introducing charging CAZ in their areas;
  • A review of reporting processed so that every local authority (in conjunction with the LHB/PSB) is required to prepare a Clean Air Plan, based on data from the Independent Monitoring & Assessment Network, with adequate control measures identified and acted upon;
  • A commitment is given that Strategic Development Plans, Public Service Board Well-Being plans and regional transport authorities will consider air quality;
  • A requirement that every local authority develops a Walking and Cycling strategy with targets to decrease the percentage of journeys by private car


2. Introduce a clean air fund

Provide targeted funding for those Local Authorities with consistent exceedances or elevated levels of air pollution. Welsh Government should investigate options to part-finance this fund via measures like traffic charging and mutual Investment Models.


3. Fund councils

Fund councils to boost pollution monitoring outside schools and health centres/hospitals so the public have the information needed to protect their health.


4. Improve air pollution monitoring and public awareness

People living in every part of Wales need to be made are aware of local pollution levels and how to minimise the impact on health.


5. Legislate for a Welsh Clean Air Act 

  • Enshrine in a law the World Health Organisation’s air quality guidelines;
  • Mandate Welsh Government to produce a statutory air quality strategy every 10 years;
  • Provide a statutory duty on local authorities to appropriately monitor and assess air pollution, and take action against it
  • Introduce a ‘right to breathe’ whereby local authorities are obliged to inform vulnerable groups when certain levels are breached.

As the latest data from the World Health Organisation reveals, air pollution is dangerously high in cities and towns across Wales. Cardiff, Chepstow, Newport, Port Talbot and Swansea are all failing WHO standards for fine particle air pollution. According to research, air pollution from particulates can cause lung cancer, and worsen heart and lung disease.


Photo of Haf Elgar
Haf Elgar

Haf Elgar, Director of Friends of the Earth Cymru, said

“Wales needs a clear, comprehensive and funded Clean Air Plan, including effective Clean Air Zones to protect people from exposure to pollution from all vehicles in our polluted towns and cities. There must be better monitoring of air quality across Wales, and an infrastructure which enables active travel with safe walking and cycling routes.

We look forward to working with the Welsh Government, the Senedd and other experts to develop these proposals as a matter of urgency.”

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