MD2347 Air quality programme – supporting work (2018/19 to 2020/21)

Type of decision: 
Mayoral decision
Date signed: 
05 September 2018
Decision by: 
Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London

Executive summary

The Mayor has identified improving air quality as one of his key priorities given its impact on public health and health inequality. A comprehensive plan to achieving (and going beyond) legal air quality standards as quickly as possible has been set out in the London Environment Strategy and in the Mayor’s Transport Strategy. The Mayor also has a number of legal duties, including in relation to the fulfilment by the London boroughs of their air quality functions.

Most of the activity and expenditure related to the air quality programme is authorised by project-specific mayoral decisions. However, this decision provides the funding needed to deliver supporting elements (e.g. research, consultancy support) of the air quality work programme from 2018/19 to 2020/21. It invites the Mayor to approve expenditure of £370,000 in 2018/19, £270,000 in 2019/20 and £270,000 in 2020/21.


That the Mayor approves the proposed activities and associated expenditure of £910,000 to deliver the supporting activities for the air quality programme as set out in section 2 of this report.

Part 1: Non-confidential facts and advice

Introduction and background

The air quality unit within the Environment Team is required to undertake a range of activities as part of delivering on statutory functions and manifesto commitments as well as supporting the implementation of the statutory London Environment Strategy, the London Plan and Mayor’s Transport Strategy. The team also provide inventories of data that are used to deliver Mayoral priorities.

Improving air quality is a public health priority. Air pollution is estimated to contribute to thousands of premature deaths caused by long-term exposure. There is also strong scientific evidence of the acute health effects of short-term exposure to very high levels of pollution, like those experienced during an air pollution episode. It is essential that coordinated action is taken to reduce exposure, especially by the most vulnerable such as school children and the elderly.

Further information on air quality, why it is public health priority and the Mayor’s strategy for addressing it are set out in detail in the London Environment Strategy.

All the following elements of the air quality work programme have been preliminarily authorised through the budget prioritisation process and as such form part of the agreed Environment budget.

Objectives and expected outcomes

This work programme will contribute to the London Environment Strategy objectives: 


  • Objective 4.1 – Support and empower London and its communities, particularly the most disadvantaged and those in priority locations, to reduce their exposure to poor air quality.


  • Objective 4.2 – Achieve legal compliance with UK and EU limits as soon as possible, including by mobilising action from London boroughs, Government and other partners.


  • Objective 4.3 – Establish and achieve new, tighter air quality targets for a cleaner London by transitioning to a zero emission London by 2050, meeting World Health Organization health-cased guidelines for air quality.

The table below sets out the main elements of the work programme, expected outputs, overall costs and expenditure related decisions broken down by year (2018/19, 2019/20 and 2020/21).







London Atmospheric Emissions Inventory (LAEI), inventory development, modelling and supporting analysis


The LAEI provides critical baseline information and forward projections on air pollutant emissions/concentrations as well as associated analysis (e.g. exposure, demographic and health impacts). The inventory supports the implementation, development and monitoring of air quality policies and programmes. The outputs are also used extensively for internal and external reporting, including to the London Assembly and in the GLA’s annual report.

The LAEI will be delivered using a combination of in-house resources, TfL support (for transport sources) and specialist consultancy services. This funding is expected to deliver:

  • A full inventory to be published in 2020
  • Methodological and data updates to certain components of the inventory (E.g. our estimates for river emissions)
  • An annual ‘snapshot’ for base years, with the first to be complete by December 2018. 

To ensure that the inventory is legally compliant funding will also be allocated to enable continued improvements to inventory sectors (e.g. through specific research projects such as to better understand boiler/building/industry/Energy from Waste emissions), to apply the latest emissions factors as they become available and update modelling as needed. (It should be noted that the failure to use the latest emissions factors was one of the reasons why the Government lost the Client Earth judicial review cases and their Air Quality Plan was quashed as a result).

In addition to the inventory the GLA will commission analysis of the resulting inventory to better understand exposure, including at schools, care homes, hospitals and other sensitive sites. We will also seek to understand the way that benefits from air quality improvements impact different demographic and social groups. This will continue to inform vital work undertaken by the Mayor and boroughs to reduce exposure.




Local Air Quality Management (LAQM) and borough support


Expert technical advice is needed to support the environment team to discharge statutory responsibilities related to the Local Air Quality Management function delegated to the Mayor from the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.


Expert consultancy support will review the LLAQM annual reports; produce a compendium of all the action being taken by the boroughs; with a focus on best practice; support the Clean Air Borough programme; and undertake a comparative analysis of borough activity.


The consultancy also provides a ‘helpdesk’ which answers technical queries that the boroughs may have when they are producing their annual reports.





A new air quality health and inequality study


Working with TfL, the GLA will commission a major new health and inequality study. In principle approval has now been given by the Mayor’s Office and a detailed specification is being drawn up which will be approved by the Air Quality Implementation Group before procurement and delivery is undertaken.


The health study is expected to update the existing health information the GLA holds, which is based on a study undertaken by King’s College London and published in 2015. Following the expected publication of new advice from the Government’s Committee on Medical Effects of Air Pollution the existing health study will need to be updated to reflect the latest methodology and best practice.





Non-Road Mobile Machinery recognition scheme, database and website


The Mayor has established a Non-Road Mobile Machinery Low Emission Zone (NRMM LEZ) using the planning powers he has. To facilitate the successful delivery of this scheme the Mayor has procured consultancy support to create a delivery partnership with industry. The consultants also maintain and administer a website and associated database to enable construction companies to register their equipment. This is helping us build a more comprehensive record of the construction equipment in London, which is inputted into the LAEI. The cost of maintaining the existing delivery partnership, website and database with appropriate consultancy support is £30,000 a year.


In addition, the Mayor has set out in his environment strategy that he wants to establish a recognition scheme for those operators who go beyond the emissions standards set out in the Mayor’s NRMM LEZ. A pilot is currently underway and based on this a detailed proposal will be submitted for approval to the Mayor’s Office. £30,000 has been budgeted to support the delivery of a recognition scheme.





It should be noted that other air quality programme activity, including to address emissions from buildings through the planning system, air quality alerts, and action to reduce exposure at schools and nurseries, are addressed through other Mayoral Decisions.

Equality comments

Under section 149 of the Equality Act 2010, as a public authority, the Mayor of London must have due regard to the need to eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment and victimisation as well as to advance equality of opportunity and foster good relations between people who have a protected characteristic and those who do not.

The GLA has published an analysis on exposure to air pollution undertaken by Aether which shows that not only are there huge health impacts of pollution but the way these fall on the most vulnerable means that improving air quality is fundamentally about tackling social injustice.

The updated report considers pollution exposure in London in 2013 and considers how exposure varies by age, indicators of relative deprivation and ethnic groups in London. It also looks at total exposure (broken down by borough) and exposure at schools. Through the research described in this report, City Hall is seeking to understand inequalities in access to clean air in London and to consider how this will be improved by planned air pollution controls.

The research shows on average that the most deprived tenth of the population are exposed to concentrations of NO2 which are 25 per cent higher than the least deprived tenth of the population. It is important to note that hidden within this you also have pockets of extreme wealth with very high levels of exposure, e.g. those living in Westminster or in Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea.

In terms of ethnicity, whereas there is a normal distribution of exposure for white people, the pattern shows increasing exposure in areas that have higher percentage of non-white ethnic groups, with a particularly skewed distribution for the Black/African/Caribbean/Black British population. A greater proportion of mixed, black and other ethnic groups are exposed to levels of pollution that exceed the NO2 limit value than their proportion of the total population.

The design of the Mayor’s air quality programme will benefit all Londoners, but due to the unequal impacts of pollution on the most vulnerable Londoners there is likely to be a positive effect in tackling social and health inequality of this programme of activity.

Elements of this MD will also ensure that the full impacts of air pollution on London’s diverse communities is properly understood so the consideration of the Mayor’s equalities duty has been intrinsic to the design of this work.

Other considerations

Key risks and issues

Delays in undertaking any of the activities listed above (due to not having budgets or contracts in place) are likely to lead to an interruption in service provision that may have a negative reputational impact on the Mayor. Mitigation: the timelines and expected costs for all activities have been reviewed. In addition, risk registers will be drawn up for individual projects (where appropriate) to identify and monitor risks. High value / high risk projects will be monitored through existing corporate reporting and lower value / lower value risks will be monitored through the Environment team’s monitoring and review process.

Staff resources have been identified within the air quality unit to manage and take forward the projects set out above. These are set out in the air quality unit business plan and will be monitored and reviewed by the Environment Team’s management team.

Links to Mayoral strategies and priorities

The London Environment Strategy sets out the following commitments relating to the London Atmospheric Emissions Inventory, the London Local Air Quality Management framework, understanding health impacts and Non-Road Mobile Machinery:

• Proposal 4.1.2.a The Mayor will produce and maintain the London Atmospheric Emissions Inventory (LAEI) to better understand pollution sources in London
To tackle air pollution effectively, it is necessary to understand its sources. The Mayor will produce and maintain the LAEI. This will help us understand the key emissions sources and how they contribute to poor air quality, both now and projected into the future. It will be used to calculate health impacts, exposure and health inequalities.

• Proposal 4.2.4.a The Mayor will use the London Local Air Quality Management
(LLAQM) framework to assist boroughs and require them to exercise their statutory duties to improve air quality in accordance with that framework, and will exercise statutory powers as required
The Mayor will help boroughs in carrying out the exercise of their statutory duties to improve air quality. Through the reformed LLAQM framework there are clearer requirements for the boroughs. The Mayor will continue to provide coordination, tools, templates, support and funding. The Mayor will also improve information sharing and promote best practice by publishing an annual report on borough achievements, and provide advice, information and workshops.

• Proposal 4.2.3.a The Mayor will work with government, TfL, the London boroughs, the construction industry and other users of Non-Road Mobile Machinery (NRMM), such as event organisers, to prevent or reduce NRMM emissions

Impact Assessments and consultations

A comprehensive Integrated Impact Assessment was undertaken to support the London Environment Strategy (LES) which covered air quality. The Integrated Impact Assessment (IIA) found that the GLA had considered aspects for improving London’s air quality based on four policy options. This was recognised in the LES IIA as the most effective approach for addressing human health impacts. The LES includes targets for some of the pollutants identified in the IIA recommendations.

Financial comments

Mayoral Approval is sought for the proposed activities detailed above and the associated expenditure of £910,000 to deliver the supporting activities for the air quality programme as set out in section 2 of this report. The spend of £910,000 is to be funded from the Environment Programme budget for Air Quality where £370,000 will be funded from the 2018-19 budget and £270,000 per annum from the 2019-20 and 2020-21 budgets.

Activity table



Delivery of LAEI snapshot

December 2018

Delivery of LLAQM consultancy support (contract already in place)


Delivery of health study

March 2019

Initiation of NRMM Green Machines recognition scheme

March 2019

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