UK Government releases Draft Clean Air Strategy

The UK Government has launched their draft Clean Air Strategy which outlines ambitions relating to reducing air pollution, making our air healthier to breathe, protecting nature and boosting the economy. In this draft strategy, DEFRA set out future air quality policies and goals. This strategy sits alongside three other important UK government strategies: the Industrial Strategy, the Clean Growth Strategy and the 25 Year Environment Plan.

This Clean Air Strategy shows how we will tackle all sources of air pollution, making our air healthier to breathe, protecting nature and boosting the economy. It sets out a wide range of actions on which the UK government is consulting and also shows how devolved administrations intend to make their share of emissions reductions. This consultation will inform the final Clean Air Strategy and detailed National Air Pollution Control Programme, to be published by March 2019. It complements three other UK government strategies: the Industrial Strategy, the Clean Growth Strategy and the 25 Year Environment Plan.

This DEFRA Draft Clean Air Strategy refers to the role of Hydrogen & Fuel Cells in Rail Sector. Rail transport is generally considered to be a cleaner form of transport which makes a relatively small contribution to poor air quality (4 percent of NOX emissions and 1 percent of PM2.5 emissions63, nationally) with overall emissions both less per passenger mile and tonne per km for freight when compared to other transport modes. It is clear, however, that more can and should be done to drive down emissions and improve air quality throughout the whole rail sector, not least as rail emissions have risen overall in absolute terms.

The UK Government has asked the rail sector to set up a taskforce that will look at how to decarbonise the rail industry and improve air quality through reducing harmful emissions produced by the rail industry. The approach of this task force will be holistic and examine the industry in the wider sense including for example, the impact of taxi traffic in and around stations. The industry task force will report back in autumn 2018. The UK government has also challenged the taskforce to set out how the industry will meet the ambition of removing all diesel only trains by 2040 (encompassing both freight and passenger traction). This will be both stretching and challenging and will require an embracing of new technologies and innovation, including the possibilities of alternative fuels such as batteries and hydrogen.