09 February 2018
Wales has some of the worst air quality in the UK. Cardiff and Port Talbot both have higher particulate matter levels than Birmingham or Manchester and a road in Caerphilly is the most polluted outside of London. This air pollution contributes to around 2,000 deaths per year in Wales. It has been described by Public Health Wales as an urgent public health crisis, second only to smoking. Some areas in Wales have breached EU regulations for several years, culminating in the Welsh Government being taken to court for its lack of action.
Unlike Scotland, which has its own Air Quality Strategy and lower pollution limits, air quality strategy in Wales has mostly been determined by EU regulations, and delivered by Local Authorities. The Welsh Government has intervened only in the Neath Port Talbot Air Quality Management Area. The announcement of a Clean Air Plan for Wales in 2018 does suggest that the Welsh Government is going to take more action on air quality.
New Publication: Air Quality (PDF, 843KB)
The Research Service acknowledges the parliamentary fellowship provided to Robert Abernethy by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), which enabled this briefing paper to be completed.
National Assembly for Wales Research Service