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Air quality management

Despite considerable improvements in air quality over the last 40 years, air pollution continues to be a significant problem, affecting our health and the environment. The key pollutants of concern and their main sources are:

Pollutant Sources
Nitrogen dioxide (NO2) Road transport,  energy generation, domestic and industrial combustion

Particulate matter

(PM10 and PM2.5)

Domestic wood and coal burning, industrial combustion and road transport
Sulphur dioxide (SO2) Energy generation, industrial combustion and domestic burning

Air quality management areas

Local authorities are responsible for identifying local air quality problems and taking action to tackle them.

We review and assess air quality within our area to determine whether or not we are likely to achieve the targets set in UK legislation. If we think we will not meet a target, we have to declare an air quality management area (AQMA) covering the area where the problem was identified. We must then prepare an action plan to improve air quality in the area, consulting with local people and businesses, neighbouring local authorities, Highways England, the Environment Agency and others.

Previous air quality monitoring found levels of nitrogen dioxide that exceeded the annual average target (40 µg/m3) and in 2010, three air quality management areas were declared in the centres of both Kingswood and Staple Hill and at Cribbs Causeway adjacent to the M5 Junction 17 roundabout.

The Kingswood and Staple Hill air quality management areas were extended in 2012 following further assessment. We also produced an Action Plan to improve the air quality in these AQMAs in 2012.

In December 2015, the Kingswood – Warmley air quality management area was declared, extending the 2012 Kingswood AQMA along the A420 corridor east to Warmley. This followed a detailed assessment in 2014 which had identified new locations on this corridor where the nitrogen dioxide annual average target was being exceeded.

The Action Plan is being updated to cover the extension of the AQMA and include a wider range of actions to improve air quality in the AQMAs and across the wider district.

The Cribbs Causeway air quality management area was revoked in July 2020 following Defra’s recommendation and public consultation. The nitrogen dioxide levels at the single property within the AQMA had remained below the annual average target (40 µg/m3) and also the precautionary “borderline” level (36 µg/m3) for the previous ten years (2010 – 2019 inclusive). We will continue to monitor in this location and review the results.

South Gloucestershire Council previously declared an air quality management area with respect to the annual average nitrogen dioxide target 110 metres either side of the M4, M5, M32 and M49 motorways in November 2001. Following more work, this was revoked in March 2004.

Over half of all local authorities in England have declared air quality management areas, which locally include central Bristol, central Bath, Saltford, Keynsham, Temple Cloud and Farrington Gurney.

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