What Defra funding sources can Local Authorities access to support their air quality work in England?
Defra’s air quality grant scheme provides funding to eligible local authorities to help improve air quality. The scheme helps local authorities to make air quality improvements and to meet their statutory duties under the Environment Act 1995 as amended by the Environment Act 2021. It has awarded over £91 million in funding to a variety of projects since it started in 1997.
The 2023-24 funding round is now closed for applications. Successful applicants for this year’s scheme will be announced in February 2024.
The purpose of the Grant is to provide support to local authorities in England to develop and/or implement measures to improve local air quality. In particular, Defra look for applications with projects designed to:
- Improve local air quality with links to Local Air Quality Action Plans (although consideration is given to unrelated innovative projects that align to national strategies/priorities).
- Improve public awareness in local communities about the risks of air pollution.
- Address fine particulate matter (PM2.5).
These projects will complement the wider UK plan for tackling roadside nitrogen dioxide (NO2) concentrations, which includes a £3.5 billion investment into air quality and cleaner transport. The plan is supporting the uptake of low emissions vehicles, getting more people to cycle and walk, and encouraging cleaner public transport.
Proposals which have won funding previously include projects and campaigns to:
- Partner with GPs to train them as Air Quality champions to raise awareness of the health impacts of air pollution in their surgeries.
- Promote anti-idling amongst drivers.
- Support local authorities in monitoring and raising awareness surrounding PM2.5.
- Develop alternatives for last-mile freight for local businesses, for example via cargo-bike schemes.
- Enhance educational programmes for schoolchildren.
All local authorities in England are eligible to apply including those in London. Local authorities are also encouraged to explore funding possibilities under other Government grant schemes as advertised on www.gov.uk.