Organisations across Wales will take part in online events today (Thursday, October 8) as part of Clean Air Day, with members of the public invited to find out more about air pollution, share information, and make Wales’ air cleaner and healthier for everyone.
The event normally takes place in June, though this year had to be postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Organisations and groups will take to social media to publicise what they’re doing in order to improve air quality nationwide.
The Welsh Government and Environment Platform Wales have collaborated to host a webinar with panellists from Transport for Quality of Life, Sustrans and Global Action plan while Transport for Wales will showcase their work to decrease their carbon footprint.
Newport Transport and Zenobe Energy will also announce the arrival of a fleet of 14 new electric buses – the first vehicles of their kind to ever be in service in Wales.
The new buses will help to drive down air pollution in Newport, which is one of the most polluted areas in Wales.
This year has seen the Welsh Government launch its Clean Air Plan, which sets out how we will improve air quality during the next 10 years, and supports the work needed in preparation for a new Clean Air Act for Wales.
Other actions either carried out or supported by the Welsh Government include:
- The largest ever investment in local Active Travel improvements in Wales, throughout 2020.
- Encouraging more people to work from home, and putting changes in place to support them in doing so.
- Taking forward plans for a default 20mph speed limit in residential zones.
- Launching a £29m fund to support the shift to low-emission vehicles, moving us closer to our aim of a zero emission bus and taxi/private hire vehicle fleet by 2028.
- Outlining the Electric Vehicle Charging Strategy through a public consultation process in November, which will set out how charging infrastructure will be installed across Wales, with the aim of encouraging more people switch to electric vehicles, and providing charging equitably.
Lesley Griffiths, the Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs, said:
While Covid-19 has forced a number of events to be postponed or cancelled, we were keen that Clean Air Day take place in some form during 2020.
As such, I’m very grateful for all of those organisations and public bodies who are taking part digitally –whether tis is sharing their work to improve air quality on social media, or taking part in events such as webinars.
Ms Griffiths added:
We know during lockdown, more and more people have chosen to either work from home, or walk or cycle to work – leading to, on average, a 36% reduction in NO2 during the lockdown period. In a recent survey, more than half of Welsh adults surveyed said they’d started taking more walks during lockdown.
We are very grateful to the public for undertaking these changes, and we want to make sure that these new changed habits continue after lockdown and well into the future.
Lee Waters, the Deputy Minister for Economy and Transport, said:
Coronavirus will fundamentally reshape our society and we must make sure those changes lead to cleaner air for Wales. We want to encourage modal shift and give more people the option to work from home, or at a hub in their community, with an aim of 30% of the workforce working remotely.
As well as making record investment in active travel we are supporting the transition to low emission vehicles with £29m, as well as taking forward an ambitious programme of public transport reform. All of this will help improve the design and the health of our communities.