Local air quality management

Local air quality is legislated for under Part 4 of the Environment Act 1995 which introduces Local Air Quality Management, guided by The Air Quality Strategy for England, Wales and Northern Ireland published by the Department of Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) in 2000.

Local Air Quality Management is a statutory obligation for all Local Authorities. It involves a rolling programme of air quality assessment, impacting on decisions made by all internal and external bodies responsible for transport planning, highways, growth agendas, development plans and environmental protection.

The Air Quality Strategy provides Local Authorities with air quality objectives and a year by which the objectives should be achieved. With the use of prediction tools and air quality modelling, it is possible to estimate future concentrations of a pollutant at various receptors. If exceedances of any one of the objectives is identified at a receptor point, an Air Quality Management Area (AQMA) is declared.

Real Time Air Pollution Monitoring in South Cambridgeshire District

Annual Air Quality Reports

South Cambridgeshire District Council has monitored and reported on local air quality annually since 1998. These reports form part of the Council's statutory obligation in the Air Quality Review and Assessment process. 

Should you require previous reports, please send a request to air.quality@scambs.gov.uk

Air Quality Management Area (AQMA)

In 2008, as a result of exceedances of the national objectives for annual mean nitrogen dioxide and daily mean PM10, we designated an area of the A14 between Milton and Bar Hill as an AQMA. We created an Air Quality Action Plan which identifies practical, feasible and cost-effective measures that can be implemented to improve.

A map showing the Air Quality Management Area within South Cambridge

Reproduced from the 2007 Ordnance Survey mapping with the permission of the controller of Her Majesty's stationary office (c) Crown Copyright. Unauthorised reproduction infringes Crown Copyright and may lead to prosecution or civil proceedings.

Air Quality Action Plan (AQAP)

We and Huntingdonshire District Council have declared Air Quality Management Areas along the A14 whilst Cambridge City Council has an AQMA in the City Centre.

The continuing increase in the level of traffic is the main challenge to air quality the south of Cambridgeshire. In 2010, officers from the three Councils decided to produce a joint Action Plan because of the nature of the road network and spatial distribution of housing, recreation and employment in the region.

Guidance from Defra (2003, updated in 2009) specifies that an Air Quality Action Plan must include the following:

  • Quantification of the source contributions to the predicted exceedances of the objective allowing the Action Plan measures to be effectively targeted
  • Evidence that all available options have been considered on the grounds of cost-effectiveness and feasibility
  • How the local authority will use its powers and also work in conjunction with other organisations in pursuit of the Air Quality Objectives
  • Clear timescales in which the authority and other organisations and agencies propose to implement the measures within its plan
  • Quantification of the expected impacts of the proposed measures and, where possible, an indication whether the measures will be sufficient to meet the Air Quality Objectives

Air Quality Strategy (AQS) and Low Emission Strategy (LES)

Air Quality Strategy

In June 2008, we adopted a Local Air Quality Strategy [PDF, 3.5MB]. The Local Air Quality Strategy (LAQS) goes beyond the statutory duties of the NAQS but shows that we are able, keen and capable of making a contribution to improving air quality.

The LAQS has been created to:

  • Bring together all internal and external bodies who are either affected by or have an impact on local air quality
  • Ensure a consistent approach in dealing with air quality internally and externally
  • To create a platform upon which improvements both in Council performance and air quality can be built

Low Emission Strategy

As outlined in the 2018 South Cambridgeshire Local Plan, a Low Emission Strategy (LES) will need to be submitted alongside planning applications for major developments requiring a Transport Assessment and Travel Plan and developments with significant transport implications.

Low Emission Strategies provide a package of measures to help mitigate the transport impacts of development on local air quality and on climate change. They complement other design and mitigation options, such as travel planning and the provision of public transport infrastructure. Strategies are often secured through a combination of planning conditions and planning obligations. They may incorporate policy measures and / or require financial investments in and contributions to the delivery of low emission transport projects and plans, including strategic monitoring and assessment activities.

Full details of when a Low Emission Strategy will be required and the Council’s preferred sustainable transport measures to be included within any LES can be found in the Greater Cambridge Sustainable Design and Construction Supplementary Planning Document, in the section Air Quality – South Cambridgeshire.

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