A recent report revealed that air pollution shortens the life expectancy of the average Briton by eight months. The Government says that the proposals could save the UK £1.4bn a year.

Under the plan, Wales and the rest of the UK would adopt tougher European vehicle emission standards, put in place incentives for drivers to buy cleaner vehicles, and tighten restrictions on emissions from small combustion plants and ships.

The consultation forms part of a wider review of the Air Quality Strategy for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Carwyn Jones, the Welsh minister for environment, planning and countryside, said: “We have seen significant reductions in many pollutants, but air pollution remains a concern. It harms health and causes damage to our environment.

“We need to take action to reduce the impact air pollution has on life expectancy in Wales, and the measures outlined today would be a major step towards achieving a healthier nation.”

Ben Bradshaw, the UK local environment minister, said: “Although our air is cleaner in overall terms than at any time since the industrial revolution, air pollution is not declining as quickly as expected. We need to move faster and take further measures to move us closer to meeting our objectives.”

The consultation document can be viewed here.

Jess McCabe

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