Air Quality Review and Assessment

Air pollution in West Somerset is a very important issue and one of public concern. Everybody has the right to clean air, it is therefore essential that air quality and pollution be strictly controlled, managed and monitored.

The National Air Quality Strategy 1997 was established to control and protect air quality in the United Kingdom. Air Quality Standards were created for eight main air pollutants that are known to harm human health and measures to be taken to deliver cleaner air through a process of Local Air Quality Management (LAQM). (Ozone one of the eight pollutants is now managed nationally due to its trans boundary nature.)

Local Air Quality Management

The Air Quality Management process is governed by Central Government and guided by legislation (The National Air Quality strategy). Local Authority's have a key role to play in improving air quality in their area. All busy, congested roads and major industrial processes were assessed and predictions made for future concentrations of the seven pollutants. If these predictions showed that the objectives were unlikely to be achieved then the Local Authority is required to declare one or more Air Quality Management Areas (AQMA) and produce a local action plan. West Somerset completed this work and submitted a technical report to the Department of Environment, Transport and the Regions (DETR) identifying that it is unlikely that there will be any exceedances of the air quality objectives.

From the research undertaken in the first round of the review and assessment process, West Somerset Council did not declare an Air Quality Management Area. However, in order to confirm the modelled findings of this research this authority has installed monitoring points for nitrogen dioxide.

Local Air Quality Management-Second Round of Review and Assessment

The National Air Quality Strategy requires Local Authorities to review and assess air quality in their areas from time to time. Following the initial round of review and assessment, West Somerset Council were required to undertake a second round of review and assessment. This phased approach to local air quality management allows a review of pollutant sources and an update of predicted pollutant concentrations resulting from changes in emissions.

Updating and Screening Assessment

The first step in the second round of the review and assessment process is an updating and screening assessment (U&SA). This is based on a checklist to identify those emissions that have changed since the first round of review and assessment. The U&SA for West Somerset identified that the required Air Quality objectives are likely to be met and a third stage review is not required for the following pollutants:

  • nitrogen dioxide
  • particulate matter (PM10)
  • sulphur dioxide
  • carbon monoxide
  • lead
  • benzene
  • 1,3-butadiene