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Use congestion charges to improve air quality, says RTPI

20 June 2017

Freeway congestion

Congestion charging zones, along with investment in public transport and infrastructure for walking, cycling and electric vehicles, are urgently needed to improve air quality, the RTPI has said.

In its response to the consultation on the draft UK Air Quality Plan, the Institute has also called on the UK Government to join up land use and transport planning to ensure new developments prioritise active travel such as walking and cycling, and public transport.

The Institute says existing measures in the planning system - development management and Local Plans -  could be better used to prevent new development generating air pollution. It has cautioned, however, that funding and staff shortages are preventing councils from implementing strong air quality measures and policies.

It says revenue raised from charging vehicles from entering Clean Air Zones, like the one used in cities such as London, could be reinvested by councils to improve monitoring and enforcement, and to develop the technical capacity to create maps which integrate land use, transport and infrastructure.

James Harris, Policy and Networks Manager said:

"The draft plan says little on the critical relationship between the built environment, infrastructure and air quality and how planning can link these together. We know planning has a central role to play - it is already being used as a tool to improve air quality in Scotland. Their successful measures should be a part of the solution the Government applies across the UK in its final plan."

Read the RTPI's full response to the consultation on the draft UK Air Quality Plan