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New bill gives Welsh Government greater powers to powers to tackle air and noise pollution

21 Mar 2023 3 minute read
Photo by Ruben de Rijcke licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported

Climate Change Minister Julie James has said new powers to tackle air and noise pollution will lead to a cleaner, healthier and greener Wales.

The new Environment (Air Quality and Soundscapes) (Wales) Bill gives the Welsh Government powers to introduce new long-term targets for air quality and will help create low emission zones on trunk roads where needed and will give local authorities more power to tackle vehicle idling.

Greener future

Climate Change Minister Julie James said: “Our Programme for Government sets out a commitment to introduce a Clean Air Bill for Wales and I am delighted we have reached the first stage in our legislative journey which will lead the way to a cleaner, healthier and greener future.”

“By introducing this Bill, our ambition is to further improve air quality and soundscapes by bringing forward new measures to reduce the impacts of air and noise pollution on human health, biodiversity and the natural environment.”

“The scale and scope of the Bill reflects our commitment to improving the quality of our air environment at a Wales-wide level, at a local and regional level and throughout society.

The Bill also proposes a progressive obligation on Welsh Ministers to introduce a national soundscapes strategy.


Wales will be the first nation in the UK to make this commitment.

This will put onus on Welsh Government to make policies that not only tackle unwanted noise, but also protect sounds that matter to people, for example birdsong.

The soundscapes strategy has been developed in response to emerging research on the impacts of sounds on our health and well-being, as well as that of animals.

If passed, Wales will be the first country in the UK to introduce such plans.

Chief Medical Officer for Wales, Sir Frank Atherton, said: “There is strong evidence that exposure to air pollution can increase the risk of serious illness and unwanted or harmful noise can not only cause hearing damage but also reduces our quality of life.

“Across government we are already taking action to improve the air we breathe and promote healthy soundscapes.

“The Bill goes further and aims to make our air cleaner and our sound environments better. This is why I fully endorse the Environment (Air Quality and Soundscapes) Bill for Wales.”


Joseph Carter, Chair of Healthy Air Cymru and Head of Asthma + Lung UK Cymru, said: “We should be able to walk down the street knowing the air we breathe is safe and healthy. The Environment (Air Quality and Soundscapes) (Wales) Bill, introduced to the Senedd today, is the crucial next step in making this happen.

“Air pollution is one of the most pressing public health issues we face, contributing to the deaths of over 2000 people a year in Wales. It affects the most vulnerable in our society who have done the least to cause it, and it is especially damaging to our children’s developing lungs. Furthermore, it is bad for the planet, since some of the air pollutants emitted by our vehicles are causing the climate to warm up.

“This clean air legislation is not only a huge win for Welsh lungs but also an important milestone in our journey towards a greener, fairer, and healthier future, where we walk and cycle more and use the car less. We call on all parties to work together to make this Bill as strong as possible.”

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1 year ago

Wonderful that sound is included. How many of us are totally fed up of being woken up by loud car and bike exhausts in the early hours of the morning and especially in the summer when we have no choice but to sleep (or try to sleep) with windows open.

1 year ago

The ‘Low Emissions Zone is an interesting one – are we heading for a generalised 50mph limit on all motorways and 30mph trunk roads to follow on from the default 20mph urban limits?

1 year ago

The Welsh Tories have been banging on about the the Welsh Government needing to introduce a Clean Air Bill for months. How long will it be before the same Welsh Tories start to attack the Clean Air Bill for being an attack on motorists.

1 year ago
Reply to  Llyn

Yep the Welsh Tories already attacking the Bill that aims to provide a cleaner environment for including measures to create a cleaner environment. Apparently for the Welsh Tories a Bill that aims to provide a cleaner environment should not include measures to address air pollution from internal combustion engines!

Ernie The Smallholder
Ernie The Smallholder
1 year ago

When are we going to see the full electrification of our rail network ?
…And a fully electric road transport system ?

We are already experiencing disruptions to train services because of necessary maintenance to the diesel combustion powered stock.

That diesel powered trains have even caught fire causing risk to the public.

Diesel, petrol, steam powered transport should be housed in a museum of scientific history.

Ernie The Smallholder
Ernie The Smallholder
1 year ago

… And not in everyday use.

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