The £20m Air Quality Fund, which will run until 2021, will support local authorities to comply with nitrogen dioxide limits and improve air quality in their areas.

The Environment Minister has also announced a consultation on plans for Clean Air Zones, designated areas where action is taken to reduce public and environmental exposure to airborne pollutants.

The proposals include stopping or restricting access for the most polluting vehicles entering a Clean Air Zone, thereby reducing road congestion and emissions within the Clean Air Zones and neighbouring areas.

The Minister also confirmed immediate measures, including temporary speed limits, will come into force within the next two months to reduce nitrogen dioxide (NO2) levels on roads where levels are currently above legal limits. Among the restrictions will be the introduction of 50 mph speed limits over the short length of the exceedance at five locations:

  • A494 at Deeside
  • A483 at Wrexham
  • M4 between Junctions 41 & 42 (Port Talbot)
  • M4 between junctions 25 & 26 (Newport)
  • A470 between Upper Boat & Pontypridd

The measures are expected to deliver immediate improvements to air quality at the key locations, with 50mph speed limits expected to reduce emissions by up to 18%.

Responding to the Welsh Government statement Mick Antoniw, Assembly Member for Pontypridd said:

“As the number of cars on our roads increases, so air quality is becoming an increasing concern and I have been contacted by a number of constituents affected by pollution levels around stretches of the A470.

“Air quality has a huge impact on people’s health, so I am pleased that the Welsh Government has acknowledged resident’s concerns about nitrogen dioxide levels on the Pontypridd to Upper Boat section of the A470 and will be introducing a number of measures including a temporary speed limit reduction to 50 mph in order to help reduce emissions.

“Some people will have concerns about the introduction of speed restrictions on what is a very busy stretch of road, but realistically this is the only way to reduce pollution levels so that they are safe and comply with legal requirements. 

“At the end of the day, people’s health must come first.

“Of course, the long-term solution lies with moving people off roads and onto public transport, which is why I continue to campaign so strongly for the South Wales Metro plan to be progressed at the earliest possible opportunity.”