Northern Ireland soon to take a step forward on clean air
Northern Ireland will soon move forward on a clean air strategy that aims to make our air quality better, improve our health and wellbeing, reduce pollutants in the air we breathe and protect the environment.
Environment Minister Edwin Poots and Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon today marked International Clean Air Day with a commitment to work together and find ways to improve Northern Ireland’s air quality.
Speaking today, Minister Poots said:
“Air pollution can have a serious effect on people's health. It also has negative impacts on our environment. I recognise this and that is why I am taking two significant steps in 2020 to address air pollution in Northern Ireland.
“On 7 May, I launched Northern Ireland’s first air quality app. The app gives the public instant up to date information on the air pollution levels across Northern Ireland. It also provides health advice on the impacts of air pollution and a five day air quality forecast so that people can make informed choices about their health.
“Secondly, in the coming weeks, I will be launching a Clean Air Strategy Discussion document. This is a tremendous step forward in the development of the first Clean Air Strategy for Northern Ireland. Work has involved close collaboration with other Departments, in particular, the Department for Infrastructure and I encourage engagement with my Department to exchange ideas on air quality issues and mitigation measures.”
Coordinated by Global Action Plan, Clean Air Day is the UK’s largest air pollution campaign. It seeks to bring together businesses, education and the health sector to increase awareness of the health impacts of air pollution, improve the understanding of air pollution and suggest actions that everyone can take to reduce air pollution.
Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon said:
“We all have a part to play to keep our air clean. Since my appointment as Minister for Infrastructure, I made a commitment to deliver sustainable infrastructure that will transform our communities today and for the generations behind us. We are now living in a new normal and part of that is ensuring we create more opportunities for active, cleaner, greener, sustainable travel.
“My Department has taken forward opportunities to weave blue/green infrastructure together with new cycle paths and footpaths. We have seen how the introduction of greenways has helped to improve the physical and mental health of the local communities they serve, reducing congestion and emissions.
“For journeys where walking and cycling are not feasible, clean public transport must be the next mode of choice. And we are making solid progress in this area. The success of the Glider vehicles, which produce 30% less carbon emissions than the buses they replaced, demonstrates what can be achieved with a well-designed and attractive sustainable transport option. Earlier this year I was delighted to announce a £4m investment in carbon neutral Hydrogen technologies. This was a joint first step from Northern Ireland’s private and public sectors towards investing in zero emission fuels and fleet technologies.
“Continued investment in sustainable infrastructure will not only help connectivity but will improve our towns and cities, benefitting both our environment and our health. Sustainable infrastructure has the potential to deliver change within our communities; change that transforms lives, enhances our economy and leads to long term growth and opportunities.”
The air quality app is available to download free of charge from both Android and Apple App stores and a link can be found on the Air Quality Northern website, available at https://www.airqualityni.co.uk/.
The app uses data from the air quality NI website and makes it more accessible to the public, particularly when on-the-go. A push notification service can also be set up to send a notification to the user’s mobile phone when levels of pollutants are elevated or forecast to be elevated. This information allows users to make informed decisions about their activities on days when air quality is poor.
The app can be downloaded via the Air Quality Northern website, available at https://www.airqualityni.co.uk/ and form the app store by searching ‘Northern Ireland Air.
The Clean Air Strategy will be launches to a 12 week public consultation. Copies of the Discussion Document, as well as an abridged version will be available to download from the DAERA website. Further details on how to access the documents will be published at the time of launch.