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Air quality assessment

Every year we are required to carry out a review and assessment of air quality in our district. This involves measuring air pollution and trying to predict how it will change in the next few years. The Government has laid down a set of national air quality objectives to protect people's health and the environment. The aim of the review is to make sure that these national air quality objectives will be achieved by the relevant deadlines that have been set.

The assessment uses a range of screening methods, such as the identification of specific air pollution sources, like busy roads or junctions, certain industrial processes and local pollution monitoring data. It considers whether there is a possibility of any of the national Air Quality Objectives being exceeded at, for example, houses (but not workplaces). If this initial screening assessment suggests that there is a risk of a breach of any of these standards we are required to carry out a more in depth study called a Detailed Assessment to obtain more accurate data. This may involve detailed monitoring and pollution modelling.

If we find any places where the objectives are not likely to be achieved, then we must declare an Air Quality Management Area (AQMA) there. This area could be just one or two streets, or it could be much bigger. We have to be very careful to control any additional pollution in an AQMA, usually through the planning system, or by imposing tighter emission limits on some types of industrial activities. We would also work with other organisations to develop a plan, called a Local Air Quality Action Plan, to reduce the pollution within the AQMA.

Our Air Quality Assessment Reports can be downloaded using the links below:

Air Quality UK has further technical information on air quality. Information on air quality statistics, current air quality and the pollution forecast, are all provided on DEFRA's UK air information resource.