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Jim Fitzpatrick calls for local action to improve air quailty In a Defra summit on how to improve air quality, Environment Minister Jim Fitzpatrick will today call on local authorities to work with the Government to co-ordinate action at all levels to improve air quality. Speaking at the conference, Mr Fitzpatrick will say to local government representatives that: “A key message from you and your officers has not only been that we in Government need to work closer together on air quality – and we will do this – but for local government too there needs to be dialogue and joint action at all levels – between air quality, transport, land use and climate change.  “We must all do this to ensure we get the message out there about how important it is that the air we breathe is as clean as it can be.” Mr Fitzpatrick will also praise local authorities and communities for their work on tackling air pollution. Air pollution can have a serious effect on people’s health and is estimated to reduce the life expectancy of every person in the UK by an average of seven to eight months.  The Government is examining the measures it can take to improve air quality in particular through reducing pollution from road transport especially HGV’s and buses  but also ensuring that local authorities have what they need to tackle air quality locally. Local authorities are taking important steps to improve air quality such as working with fleet operators to improve vehicle standards and reduce pollution, or ensuring land use planning proposals take steps to mitigate air quality impacts or assist local authorities to do so.  Air quality needs to be taken into account in all decisions councils make including major transport and land use planning decisions and the  government will work with local councils to ensure this is facilitated. Notes to editors The summit is being jointly held by Defra, Department for Transport and LACORS  to improve local air quality across England. A review of local air quality management is currently being completed, and will be published shortly. The European Commission is currently considering an application by the United Kingdom on an extension till July 2011 to meet PM10 air quality values.  24 out of 27 EU countries reported breaches of their limits The UK Government is preparing an application to extend the limit value deadline for nitrogen dioxide and will be consulting on this during 2010.  A number of measures including exploring the feasibility of low emission zones outside London, cleaning up emissions from HGVs and buses especially and reviewing the powers local authorities have to tackle air quality locally are among measures under consideration.