Leicester, Portsmouth and Wolverhampton are among the chosen 10.

The government has announced that it will help 10 local authorities modify their traffic management systems to improve air quality.

In recent years, the powers that be have pledged to reduce emissions of nitrogen oxide, which is harmful to public health and is found in high concentrations in city centres.

Emissions from internal combustion engines contribute to nitrogen oxide levels, although other sources include power stations, industrial activity and even domestic wood-burning fires.

Earlier this year, 33 local authorities were asked to submit studies on the steps they could take to ensure they comply with roadside nitrogen oxide limits in the shortest possible time.

London rush hour traffic in Regent Street

Those studies have now been submitted, and the government has laid out finalised plans.

As part of the project, 10 local authorities, including Leicester, Portsmouth, Reading and Wolverhampton, will receive funding from central government to introduce new measures that will tackle their air pollution problems.

In particular, the government is keen to reduce nitrogen oxide levels at busy road junctions and other roadside “hotspots”.

Cars in traffic jam surrounded by exhaust fumes

According to a joint statement from the Department for Transport (DfT) and Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), the 10 councils selected will use traffic management changes to reduce congestion, in the hope that this will therefore cut air pollution.

In addition, the funding will also help the councils retrofit a combined total of around 400 diesel-powered buses with emissions-cutting technology, as well as helping to run campaigns for behavioural change, which are designed to encourage individuals to take action that reduces their contribution to air pollution.

Traffic jam on British motorway M1

At the same time, the government has announced a new Air Quality Grant for 2018-19, which will be used to fund council projects across England. To date, it’s the largest annual Air Quality Grant ever offered in the UK.

Environment Minister Thérèse Coffey said: “While air quality has improved significantly in recent years, we know urgent action is still required to tackle roadside air pollution in our towns and cities.

“This is why through our £3.5 billion national air quality plan, we are working with local authorities across the UK and I am pleased that 10 local authorities will now implement new measures to drive down pollution.

“Roads Minister Jesse Norman and I have written to the leaders of all the authorities that have submitted feasibility studies to thank them for their hard work and underline that Defra will continue to support them to improve air quality in their areas.”