Air quality management is a public health and environmental priority, and integrated action to improve the air people breathe and to which we expose the natural environment must be taken internationally, nationally, regionally and locally. The Welsh public sector is driving air quality improvements in a number of ways, including through local air quality management, land use and transport planning, environmental permitting, active travel, investment in cleaner technologies and education and awareness-raising.
Public bodies in Wales need to carry out air quality and noise management in accordance with the five ways of working set out in the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015 ("the WFG Act"). This means:
- looking to the long term when making decisions so we do not compromise the ability of future generations to meet their own needs;
- taking an integrated approach, such as by joining up action to reduce air and noise pollution with action to improve road safety, make transport more sustainable, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and enhance the built environment with appropriately sited trees and hedgerows;
- taking every opportunity to talk to the public, including businesses, about the challenges associated with air and noise pollution, listen to their concerns and seek their views on potential solutions and their involvement in delivering them;
- collaborative working between environment, public health, transport and planning professionals and others to find shared sustainable solutions to air quality and noise problems; and
- keeping exposure to air and noise pollution as low as reasonably practicable across the whole of the population, looking out in particular for areas where the national air quality objectives might be at risk of being breached, a nuisance created, or a critical load for wildlife exceeded at some point in the future and acting pre-emptively to prevent those situations from occurring.
The Welsh Government has published integrated airborne pollution maps indicating the areas of Wales generally exposed to the highest levels of air and noise pollution.
The Welsh Government has also made population exposure to air pollution one of the national indicators under the WFG Act.