The government is giving more than £5 million to local authorities in a bid to help cut air pollution, the Department for Transport (DfT) has announced. The money, which will be split between around 30 authorities, will fund various schemes including awareness campaigns and projects designed to increase uptake of electric vehicles.

The money comes as part of the government’s Air Quality Grants, which see cash invested in schemes that “reduce the impact of dirty air on people’s health”. According to the DfT, the funding announced this week is more than double the amount handed out to councils in 2020.

Among the projects to gain funding in this round are schemes to discourage engine idling near schools in Bedford and Berkshire, as well as an employer salary sacrifice system to promote electric cars in Buckinghamshire. Other schemes include promotion of electric taxis in Slough, Berkshire, and electric vehicle promotion events in Staffordshire.

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But not all the ideas are transport-related. In Bristol, the council has been given more than £122,000 to “encourage behaviour change towards domestic burning”. Hammersmith and Fulham Council, meanwhile, has been awarded £136,800 for a website that monitors construction sites.

Since 2010, the DfT says it has “awarded” councils almost £70 million to reduce so-called PM2.5 pollution – fine particles that can cause “greatest harm to human health”. Projects to receive funding include campaigns to promote greater awareness of pollution from domestic burning, projects to improve uptake of electric vehicles and schemes helping local businesses to develop low- or zero-emission freight.

And the DfT says the projects are working, causing a “significant improvement in air quality” in the UK over the past decade. Since 2010, the DfT claims emissions of fine particulate matter have fallen by 11 percent, while nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions are down 32 percent.

“Air pollution has improved significantly since 2010 but remains the greatest environmental risk to human health,” said Environment Minister Rebecca Pow. “This funding demonstrates our commitment to improving our air and also our openness to innovation, through pioneering initiatives such as campaigns to encourage greater use of electric bikes and education programmes teaching children about the harms of fine particulate matter.

“We know local authorities are in the best position to address the issues they face in their areas. These projects demonstrate how they can deliver innovative solutions for their communities and we will continue to work with them closely to offer ongoing support.”

View of Thames river and London at sunset with red sky and air pollution