What will happen if a local authority fails to achieve the prescribed objectives in its area?

2017-10-16

Local authorities will need to demonstrate that they have satisfactorily discharged their duties under Part IV of the Environment Act 1995 and Part III of the Environment (Northern Ireland) Order 2002. This will generally mean that a local authority will need to show that it has:

i. carried out appropriate reviews and assessments of air quality as required by section 82 of the Act and in Northern Ireland article 11 of the Environment (Northern Ireland) Order 2002;

ii. designated any necessary air quality management areas as required by section 83 of the Act and in Northern Ireland article 12 of the Environment (Northern Ireland) Order 2002; and

iii. drawn up appropriate action plans as required by section 84 of the Act and in Northern Ireland article 13 of the Environment (Northern Ireland) Order 2002.

Where the Secretary of State (in Scotland, the Scottish Ministers and the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) in Northern Ireland) is satisfied that an authority has adequately discharged its duties, but, despite this, the objectives are still not likely to be achieved, then:

i. the Secretary of State, the Scottish Ministers or DAERA may consider what further measures are needed at a national level to ensure compliance with the objectives;

ii. the Secretary of State, the Scottish Ministers or DAERA may consider the possible role of other agencies or government departments (including the Highways Agency) in delivering the objectives.

In England and Wales (outside Greater London), where the Secretary of State is not satisfied that an authority has adequately discharged its duties, he may issue a direction to the authority under section 85 of the Act requiring it to prepare an action plan, or to modify an existing action plan.  In Greater London, under Section 365 of the Greater London Authority Act 1999, this power rests with the Mayor of London, who must inform the Secretary of State of any direction.

In Scotland, SEPA may do this, acting with the approval of the Scottish Ministers.

In Northern Ireland, DAERA, under article 14 of the Environment (Northern Ireland) Order 2002 may issue a direction to a district council if it appears that a council has not adequately discharged its duties.

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