Air quality

Air quality

What is local air quality management?

The National Air Quality Strategy recognises that national measures, for example controls on emissions from new motor vehicles, will not always be the most appropriate way to deal with local air pollution issues, such as air pollution caused by locally congested roads. Therefore local air quality management is an important means by which air pollution can be assessed on a local basis and local action taken to improve it.

Local air quality management requires all local authorities to assess the quality of the air in their area and compare the results to National Air Quality Objectives in areas where the public may be exposed to the air pollution. This is completed in a number of ways. First, monitoring of air pollution is undertaken within the local authority's area. In Chesterfield there are two air quality monitoring stations that sample the air everyday. These have recently been affiliated into the Automatic Urban and Rural Network (AURN) operated on behalf of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA). There are also around 40 nitrogen dioxide diffusion tubes, which are distributed across the borough (the actual number and location of these varies from time to time, as the need to monitor changes). Further details regarding the monitoring network can be found at Monitoring air pollution in Chesterfield. The measurements that are recorded at these air quality monitoring stations are downloaded and checked every day and are then compiled into annual reports that are sent to DEFRA.

In addition all local authorities are required to regularly assess the air quality in their area, and predict changes by conducting computer modelling exercises, and to review emissions from industry and all other sources of air pollution in the area. This large screening exercise is completed every three years and is called the Update and Screening Assessment (USA). In each of the two years between the USA a follow-up progress report is also produced, reviewing the ongoing monitoring, and assessing any changes which have occurred.

If a local authority identifies one or more locations that are at risk of exceeding any of the Air Quality Objectives in an area where the public may be exposed (either by monitoring or by prediction), they have to complete a detailed assessment that looks at the quality of the air in more detail in the area where the breach of the objective may be occurring.

Should the results of a detailed assessment show that air pollution is exceeding the Air Quality Objectives, then the local authority must formally designate an Air Quality Management Area (AQMA) and must produce a further assessment that assesses the source of the pollution and checks the boundaries of the AQMA. In addition they must produce an Air Quality Action Plan stating how the local authority will aim to tackle the air pollution issues. This is normally in the form of a series of projects. Since the majority of AQMAs in the UK have been declared due to elevated levels of nitrogen dioxide generated by traffic, most of the Air Quality Action Plan projects are related to traffic reduction and management.

All of our reports are submitted to DEFRA and, once approved, are available to download or we can send them to you on CD-ROM. If you would like us to send you a CD with any of the reports please contact us on 01246 345741.

Last updated on 22/11/2023