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Air quality review and assessment

The ability to breathe clean air and air that is not harmful to health is assumed to be a fundamental right of the UK population.

The health impacts of polluted air are recognised and were ably demonstrated by the great London smog’s of the late 19th and early 20th Century. The worst of these events were shown to be responsible for many thousands of excess deaths.

These historic smogs were caused by the large scale burning of coal and wood and were a highly visible and obvious example of air pollution and its health effects.

Changes in the law and improved technology have significantly reduced obviously visible air pollution and changed the constituents found in polluted air.

Many of the current pollutants are invisible to the eye but act as respiratory irritants. This is particularly problematic if individuals have a pre-existing medical condition or vulnerability. Poor air quality continues to have significant impact on the health of the UK population and on the UK economy.

The air quality assessment process

The cover of the Environment Act 1995 Local Air Quality Management policy guidance

Defra has produced a range of guidance LAQM.TG(09) for local

authorities outlining how the matter of local air quality should be addressed. The guidance identifies which pollutants are to be considered, and how the stages of assessment should be carried out.

This national approach is summarised in the table below.

Report Type Details
Updating and Screening Assessment (USA)(Every 3 years) All new rounds of review and assessment commences with a Updating and Screening Assessment (USA).
All seven pollutants have to be considered against changes that have occurred since the previous round. This might include new road development, industrial or large scale residential development.
Progress Report In the years a USA is not required a progress report must be produced.
Detailed Assessment (one years data) Any locations identified as being of concern in the USA or progress report are subject to additional monitoring and data collection.
Declaration of an Air Quality Management Area (AQMA) Where concerns are confirmed by the additional monitoring and assessments, an Air Quality Management Area (AQMA) must be declared.
Air Quality Action Plan Following the declaration of an AQMA an Air Quality Action Plan (AQAP) must be formulated within 12-18 months and submitted to DEFRA.
AQAP Progress Report The annual progress on the action plan must be submitted to DEFRA with the implementation of the AQAP.

To view the Council's reports, visit the Air quality reports page.

Wiltshire Council has complied with this multi stage approach and has currently identified eight specific locations where air quality is of concern and AQMAs have been declared. These are in Westbury, Bradford on Avon, Devizes, Marlborough, Calne and three in Salisbury.