Policy and public engagement

“Science is not finished until it is communicated” – Sir Mark Walport, Government Chief Scientific Adviser

Our researchers recognise the importance of communicating the excellent science carried out in WACL outside of academia to the people who can use it. We work with non-academic partners and users of scientific research from global companies and government departments to local schools ensuring that our research-related skills and expertise benefit society and the economy.

The National Environment Research Council (NERC) said that most environmental science is relevant to policy whether in the short-, long- or very long-term, and this is true of the work carried out at WACL. Below are some examples of the policy engagement work that WACL scientists are involved in.

Air quality is a significant public health issue in the UK and globally; in 2014 the United Nations Environment Programme called air pollution the world's worst environmental health risk. It is therefore extremely important to effectively communicate our air pollution research to policymakers allowing them to make decisions with the best available information.

WACL scientists sit on the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) Air Quality Expert Group (AQEG) providing expert independent advice on levels, sources and characteristics of air pollutants in the UK. We work closely with Defra through an ongoing partnership with the National Centre for Atmospheric Science to facilitate more effective communication between the UK atmospheric science community and Defra’s Air Quality Team supporting the development of the evidence base that informs air quality policy.

“Never have environmental issues been higher on the political agenda” – Duncan Wingham, Chief Executive NERC

Through membership of the Natural Hazards Partnership Steering Group and working with Cabinet Office and Defra, WACL scientists have contributed to the characterisation and description of air pollution episodes as a hazard in the National Risk Assessment.

Working with partners from the University of Manchester on a project led by the British Geological Survey and supported by a grant from the Department for Energy and Climate Change, WACL researchers are monitoring gases relevant for air quality and climate change at sites in Yorkshire and Lancashire. This work aims to characterise the environmental baseline in areas of interest before any hydraulic fracturing and gas exploration or production activities begin.

WACL researchers also contribute to policy on stratospheric ozone. Our research results from have been incorporated into the conclusions of the World Meteorological Organization/United Nations Environment Programme (WMO/UNEP) Scientific Assessments on Ozone Depletion, the pre-eminent knowledge base used for international policy and domestic legislation around stratospheric ozone. Our scientists sit on the Scientific Assessment Panel and are lead authors on the 2014 Ozone Assessment.

Contact us

Jenny Hudson-Bell
WACL Research Administrator

+44 (0)1904 322609
Wolfson Atmospheric Chemistry Laboratories, Department of Chemistry, University of York, Heslington, York  YO10 5DD, United Kingdom.