The 1995 Environment Act requires the City Council to conduct periodic reviews of air quality within the city, to consider whether the pollution levels meet the air quality standards derived from the EU air quality limit values.
Where the levels of pollution are predicted to exceed the limit values the Council is obligated to declare areas of the city as air quality management areas (AQMA) and to produce an air quality action plan (AQAP) to direct actions to pursue achievement of the air quality standards.
Primary responsibility for monitoring air quality and reporting on the legislative position rests with Environmental Health.
Birmingham Air Quality Monitoring
In conducting the review of air quality in the city, Environmental Health undertake a range of monitoring activities at representative sites around the city. Making use of both real time monitoring and passive diffusion tubes, Environmental Health are able to inform the position on air quality within the city. Data from the real time monitoring stations is collated and pushed to a dedicated website which also contains similar data from neighbouring local authorities. Environmental Health also upload all statutorily required reports as they are completed.
The site may be accessed via the following link: www.wmair.org
Birmingham AQMA Position
The review of air quality in the city has determined that there are exceedances of the annual mean objective level for nitrogen dioxide (NO2) primarily within the city centre. This is a result of emissions from traffic. Accordingly the Council has declared the entirety of the local authority area to be an AQMA.
Pollutant – Nitrogen Dioxide annual mean
Geographical range – whole city declaration
Birmingham AQAP Position
Pursuant with its legal obligations the Council has produced an AQAP (attached below). The original plan was produced in 2006, with a revised version issued in 2011. This version is due to be updated although a timeline has not been set for this to be completed.
Because the main source of pollution in the City is from motor vehicles the focus of the AQAP is on addressing pollution from the various emission sources e.g. private vehicles, light goods vehicles, heavy goods vehicles, buses and taxis.
In order to maximise the benefit from actions taken the Environmental Health service are working in conjunction with other Council services including Transportation Strategy, Climate Change & Environment, and Planning Management, to produce strategic documents and steer the direction of subsequent actions, and apply for funding bids to provide investment to clean up more polluting vehicles.
The Environmental Health service works in partnership with external organisations to pursue actions from within the action plan as well as linking in to our partner’s obligations.
For instance there is close working with CENTRO to ensure integration with the West Midlands Local Transport Plan and to further the development of the existing Statutory Bus Quality Partnership scheme.
Environmental Health are also a constituent member of the Low Emissions Towns and Cities Programme, a partnership of the seven West Midlands local authorities, working together to improve air quality and reduce emissions from road transport through incentivising the uptake of cleaner vehicle technologies.
The Low Emissions Towns and Cities Programme have produced a number of documents and maintain a website to publicise the work. This may be accessed via the following link: http://cms.walsall.gov.uk/index/environment/pollution/air_quality/low_emissions_towns_and_cities_programme.htm
If you require further information about air quality within Birmingham please contact:
Environmental Protection Unit
581 Tyburn Road
Tel: 0121 303 9938
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