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£5m for local authorities to tackle air pollution

Air Quality Grants awarded across England to fund local projects for cleaner air

Mark Moran
12 March 2021

Local authorities across England have been granted more than £5m in government funding to deliver innovative projects to improve air quality.

The money, from the government’s Air Quality Grant, helps councils develop and implement measures to benefit schools, businesses and communities and reduce the impact of dirty air on people’s health. More than double the funding awarded in 2020 has been made available for this year’s grant, meaning a raft of particularly strong applications are being supported.

The application process especially welcomed projects to tackle fine particulate matter (PM2.5), which is known to be the pollutant of greatest harm to human health. Plans to increase awareness and encourage long-term behaviour change were also successful.

These projects complement the wider UK plan for tackling roadside nitrogen dioxide concentrations, which includes a £3.5bn 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 that have won funding 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 and organise School Street closures at pick-up and drop-off times
  • encourage the uptake of electric taxis
  • enhance educational programmes for schoolchildren.

The £5,129,295 awarded in this round of funding means that almost £70m has been awarded through the Air Quality Grant since it was launched in 1997. Since 2010, projects to receive funding have included: campaigns to promote greater awareness of pollution from domestic burning; a project to promote electric charging points for canal boats; and collaborations with local businesses to develop low or zero-emissions freight.

Environment minister Rebecca Pow said: “Air pollution has improved significantly since 2010 but remains the greatest environmental risk to human health. This funding demonstrates our commitment to improving our air and also our openness to innovation, through pioneering initiatives such as campaigns to encourage greater use of electric bikes and education programmes teaching children about the harms of fine particulate matter.

“We know local authorities are in the best position to address the issues they face in their areas. These projects demonstrate how they can deliver innovative solutions for their communities and we will continue to work with them closely to offer ongoing support.”

Transport minister Rachel Maclean said: “From promoting anti-idling to increasing the uptake of electric taxis, the Air Quality Grant will help to clean up our air as we look to build back greener and lower our carbon footprint.

“The funding announced today will take us one step closer to meeting our climate change obligations, improving air quality and supporting economic growth right across the country.”

The Air Quality Grant forms part of the wider UK Plan for Tackling Roadside Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) Concentrations, which includes a £3.5bn investment into air quality and cleaner transport.

As a result of the NO2 plan, and alongside the Air Quality Grant, the government has been working with 61 local authorities – and providing £880m in funding – to reduce NO2 concentrations through local plans that will deliver required improvements in the shortest time possible.

There are connected plans and initiatives that promote the uptake of low emissions vehicles, getting more people to cycle and walk, and encouraging cleaner public transport.

The government has also recently taken action to cut pollution from household burning, which is the single largest source of the pollutant particulate matter (PM2.5) and the most harmful air pollutant for human health. Bans on the sale of coal and wet wood for domestic burning coming into force from May this year.

Local authority schemes receiving funding


Local authority



Bedford Borough Council

Behaviour change and awareness project delivered in nurseries, schools and a university to encourage reduced car journeys, anti-idling and organise school street closures at pick up and drop off times


Blaby District Council

Working with schools, local businesses and citizens to encourage behaviour change. Improvements to air quality monitoring and data for traffic management modelling


Brighton and Hove City Council

Retrofit of 17 double-decker buses. Working in partnership with Lewes District Council, East Sussex County Council, West Sussex County Council, Worthing-Adur District Council, and Wealden District Council


Bristol City Council

Particulate matter monitoring and engagement programme to increase awareness and encourage behaviour change towards domestic burning


Buckinghamshire Council

Pilot of employer salary sacrifice scheme to encourage a shift to electric vehicles


Cambridge City Council

Purchase of sensors to monitor air quality levels to develop behaviour awareness campaign and inform future action to reduce Particulate Matter


Cherwell District Council

Anti-idling campaign at level crossings, schools, hospitals and doctor’s surgeries


City of York Council

Feasibility study to reduce emissions for first and last mile light good deliveries in York and pilot of micro-consolidation centre


Colchester Borough Council

Engagement with community to encourage behaviour change to improve air quality. Trialling of pay-as-you-go electric cargo bike club


Essex County Council

Collection and analysis of air quality and transport data to develop traffic management measures. Working in partnership with Colchester Borough Council


Hammersmith & Fulham Council

Development of a borough wide construction site monitoring website


Islington London Borough Council

Partnership with General Practitioners to train them as air quality champions to deliver air quality improvement messages in GP surgeries


Leicester City Council

Particulate matter data gathering and mapping study to inform public engagement campaign


Liverpool City Council

Schools particulate matter education and awareness programme supported by air quality data gathered by pupils with portable monitoring devices


London Borough of Camden

Installation of electric points for use by licenced ice cream vans


London Borough of Lambeth

Street by street mapping of particulate matter to form awareness programme


Oxford City Council

Development of air quality community website. Working in partnership with Cherwell District Council, West Oxfordshire District Council, South Oxfordshire District Council, Vale of White Horse District Council, and Oxfordshire County Council


Oxford City Council

Particulate matter campaign to raise awareness and change behaviour towards domestic burning


Sandwell MBC

Working with the faith community to raise awareness and change behaviour to improve local air Qquality


Sefton MBC Air Quality

Creation of a public interactive immersive room teaching children about air quality. Enhancement of existing website to engage and support all Sefton Primary schools to learn about Air Quality


Slough Borough Council

Encourage take up of electric taxis through behaviour and awareness campaign


Southampton City Council

Particulate matter data gathering to raise awareness and encourage improved practices for domestic burning. Working in partnership with Eastleigh Borough Council Winchester City Council, and New Forest District Council



Encourage take up of electric taxis through behaviour and awareness campaign. Working in partnership with Elmbridge Borough Council, Epsom and Ewell Borough Council, Guildford Borough Council, Reigate and Banstead Borough Council, Waverley Borough Council, Woking Borough Council, and Surrey County Council


Staffordshire County Council

Engagement with schools and businesses to encourage behaviour change to improve air quality, and delivering events promoting electric vehicles. Working in partnership with Cannock Chase District Council, East Staffordshire Borough Council and Staffordshire Moorlands District Council


Tunbridge Wells

Behaviour and awareness campaign delivered through an interactive digital educational package aimed at primary school children and their parents. Working in partnership with Canterbury City Council


West Berkshire Council Air Quality

Anti-idling campaign for three boroughs and purchase of sensors to monitor air quality levels to develop future action to reduce Particulate Matter. Working in partnership with Bracknell Forest Borough Council and Wokingham Borough Council


Westminster City Council

Engagement feasibility study to develop solutions for canal boat electric charging infrastructure


Westminster City Council (Westminster Cross River Partnership)

Expansion on Clean Air Village 1, 2 and 3 - Engagement and behaviour change project that will implement a range of freight solutions in order to clean up London’s air. Working in partnership with Westminster, London Boroughs of Barnet, Brent, Hammersmith & Fulham, Islington, Lambeth, Merton, Richmond upon Thames, Wandsworth and Kent County Council


Wokingham Borough Council

Schools education programme to raise awareness and encourage active and sustainable travel choices. Development of Mobile app to help local commuters make sustainable travel choices.


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