Air quality reports
Why do we need an Air Quality Strategy to reduce air pollution? Clean air is one of the most basic requirements for us all to live and work, and is essential for our good health and wellbeing, and for the natural environment.
Although there has been a reduction in air pollution since the 1970s, poor air quality is still the largest environmental risk to public health in the UK. It shortens lives and reduces quality of life, particularly amongst the most vulnerable, the young and old, and those living with health conditions.
There are thousands of cases of respiratory and other diseases and an estimated 630 deaths a year in the Nottingham City and Nottinghamshire County areas together that can be attributed to air pollutants. It is also important to recognise that air pollution also damages ecosystems and wildlife.
We aim to improve air quality further in Nottinghamshire through this strategy as there are no safe levels of air pollution and any reduction will have a positive impact on public health. In fact, our modelling shows that reducing levels of exposure to the main pollutants in the county and city would in time generate significant reductions in related morbidity and mortality and reduction in costs to the local health and care system.
Importantly this would also improve the quality of life and wellbeing of thousands of local people helping them to meet their potential and live fulfilling lives. Reducing air pollution will also contribute to protecting the climate as polluting emissions also often contain greenhouse gases.
There are also other significant co-benefits such as health improvement through more active travel economic opportunities related to the development and utilisation of zero and low emission technologies.
Our vision is for all of Nottinghamshire residents and visitors to have clean air that allows them to lead healthy and fulfilling lives. We aim to reduce the average levels of the main pollutants and reduce the proportion of disease and death caused by air pollution. To order to do this it is crucial that we all contribute to tackling air pollution, and local authorities, and partner organisations provide strong leadership so that we improve the quality of the air we all breathe, every minute of every day and establish systems and places for clean air for future generations.
Air quality legislation, strategy and monitoring
The Environment Act 1995 requires councils to manage local air quality.
The Government set objective concentrations for the protection of health from 7 air pollutants to be met between 2003 and 2008. Where they are unlikely to be achieved, councils must designate these areas as Air Quality Management Areas (AQMAs).
In these areas councils must draw up plans to try and ensure air quality objectives are met. Plans may include action to be taken both within and outside an AQMA and could extend beyond a single council area and involve several councils working together. In addition all local authorities, whether they have any AQMAs on their area or not, are recommended to devise local air quality strategies to properly manage air quality.
We have not had to designate any Air Quality Management Areas within Ashfield but continue to monitor pollutants within the district in order to comply with legislation.
Review and assessment process
The Statutory review and assessment of local air quality was a 3 stage process with progression to the next stage if there is likely to be a breach of an objective set for an air pollutant.
- the first and second stage concern the identification of existing and proposed sources of pollutants and making future predictions of pollutant concentrations using current monitoring data or by modelling
- the third stage usually involves sophisticated modelling and monitoring techniques to provide an accurate assessment of current and future air quality.
Continued review and assessment
Part IV of the Environment Act 1995 makes it a statutory requirement for councils to continue to review and assess the current and future air quality in their areas against objectives set out for key air pollutants, under the provisions of the National Air Quality Regulations 2000 and the Air Quality (Amendment) Regulations 2002.
Review and assessment is now undertaken using a phased approach, initially conducting an ‘Updating and Screening Assessment and then a ‘Detailed Assessment where the updating and screening assessment indicates that an Air Quality Objective may be compromised.
Updating and Screening Assessments are undertaken every 3 years. To ensure continuity with the LAQM process we produce and submit annual Progress Reports to Defra in years when an Updating and Screening Assessment is not required. All reports submitted to Defra need to be approved and also made available to the general public.