Air quality

DEFRA Consultation: Tackling nitrogen dioxide in our towns and cities May 2017

All local authorities have been consulted by DEFRA on its new Air Quality Plan (and associated documents) and the consultation period closed on 15 June. The final plan is due to be published on 31 July 2017. 

Our statutory duty

This page outlines our statutory duties with respect to Local Air Quality Monitoring (LAQM).

Review and Assessment

All local authorities have a duty to Review and Assess air quality within their district. The aim of the Review and Assessment is to identify all areas where air quality is or is likely to exceed Air Quality Objectives. The Objectives are summarised in the pdf. Guidance is issued by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) to enable local authorities to carry out their duties. There are 7 airborne pollutants that are regarded as important for local authority air quality management. These are; benzene, 1,3 butadiene, carbon monoxide, lead, nitrogen dioxide (NO2), particulates (PM10) and sulphur dioxide. These are explained in more depth under "Health Effects"
Through the review and assessment process, it has been determined that Chichester is only at risk of exceeding the Objectives for NO2.

Air Quality Management Areas (AQMA's)

An AQMA is an area where Air Quality Objectives are being exceeded or are likely to exceed objectives in the relevant year and beyond. The areas are determined through long term monitoring and extensive computer modelling.

Declaring an AQMA

The process of declaring an AQMA is long and involves monitoring, statistical modelling and prediction, detailed assessments and further assessments (assessments are discussed in more detail at Risk and Assessment). The boundaries of an AQMA are drawn against geographical features in the area in order to produce a clear and understandable map.

Revoking an AQMA

Once declared, monitoring will continue within the AQMA until such a time where levels are consistently below the Air Quality Objectives, at which time an AQMA could be revoked.

Air Quality Action Plan (AQAP)

An Air Quality Action Plan (AQAP) must be written when an AQMA has been declared. The AQAP provides the mechanism through which CDC states its intentions for working towards meeting the air quality objectives within the AQMAs. CDC's AQAP was adopted at the end of 2015. You can find information on the current actions and proposals in order to improve air quality in our AQMAs and the district as a whole on our Air Quality Action Plan section under Review and Assessment.

Report air pollution

Air quality action plan

Our updated Air Quality Action Plan (AQAP) was circulated for consultation and a copy of our responses to the consultees is available on request. The actions within the AQAP are being progressed and will be reported within our annual Progress Reports and Updating and Screening Reports

Air quality and planning applications

A planning application may need to be accompanied by an air quality assessment if it is within, borders, has a direct impact on or will itself cause an Air Quality Management Area (AQMA).

All new developments have the potential to affect or be affected by air quality. The Development Management system is integral to improving air quality and air quality is a material consideration in determining applications.

A key objective of Chichester District Council's Local Plan is 'to secure the protection and enhancement of the physical (built and natural) environment of the district'. Environmental Health also has a vital role in making recommendations on planning applications with regard to air quality issues. Within the district there are currently three AQMA's (Stockbridge Roundabout, St Pancras and Orchard Street). These are areas where UK Air Quality Standards and Objectives are not achieved for nitrogen dioxide.

For all planning enquiries relating to air quality issues please contact our Air Quality team.

Bonfires

Chichester District Council receives many complaints regarding smoke and smells from bonfires. Smoke can ruin peoples enjoyment of their garden, prevent them from opening their windows or hanging washing out.

Nuisance from bonfires and how to avoid it

Smoke from bonfires can be very irritating and cause distress to those exposed to it.

Under the Environmental Protection Act 1990, smoke caused by bonfires may be a statutory nuisance and the Council has powers to take action against those that create a serious pollution from bonfires.  Case law has established that the concept of nuisance considers "reasonable expectation". So in general terms the occasional small garden bonfire burning dry wood/plant material may be acceptable, whilst burning of other household materials such as painted wood, plastics, furniture, mattresses etc would not.

Often people believe there are byelaws controlling hours when you can have a bonfire.  This is not the case.  However, if we investigate a complaint for you, we will consider whether the impacts are reasonable with reference to; the duration, severity and frequency.

What you should do?

We would recommend you politely discuss a bonfire problem with the person having the bonfires.  They might not realise they are causing a problem. If the situation doesn't improve, then you can report the problem to us.

Bonfire Guidelines

If you have garden waste to dispose of, try and compost as much as possible. Consider using a shredding machine, which can reduce hardwood materials into mulch for use on your garden. The remainder can be taken to one of the household waste recycling centres. If you must light a bonfire, ensure that the material to be burnt is dry. This will minimise the amount of smoke produced.

  • Do not light a fire when the weather conditions might cause the smoke to travel into your neighbours garden or property.
  • Remember that smoke will hang in the air on a damp, windless day and in the evening around sunset.
  • Position any bonfire as far away from buildings as possible. Do not light a fire if the wind will carry the smoke over roads.
  • Never leave a fire to smoulder - put it out with water or soil.
  • Remember, heaps of garden refuse provide a haven for small animals such as hedgehogs. Check before you light.
  • Take care to keep children away from a bonfire. Supervise burning as much as possible.
  • Burn only dry plant/wood waste. Avoid burning any wood that is treated/painted or any other household waste.

Air quality - control of industrial emissions

Information can be found on our Apply for an environmental permit page

Forecast alerts

The Environmental Research Group (ERG) at King's College, London, collects all real-time air quality data monitored in the district twice daily.

This data is stored, analysed and compared to other monitoring results from across Sussex. This data is used with meteorological data to predict or 'forecast' pollution episodes. We are part of the Sussex Air Quality Partnership (SAQP). The SAQP promotes improvements in air quality related issues across Sussex.

The SAQP website, 'Sussex-air' displays the latest air pollution index values from real-time monitors collected by ERG. The forecast data is colour coded according to the DEFRA pollution bands (see Related documents for explanation of the banding system). The banding system in dictates health effects ranging from un-noticeable effects to significant effects that can exacerbate respiratory problems.

The SAQP also provides the airAlert service. The service sends free messages to vulnerable people who may be more at risk of respiratory problems during high pollution episodes. Please follow the link to the 'airAlert - Messaging Service' website for details of registration to the service.

Health effects

There are seven main pollutants for which the Government has released National Air Quality Standards and Objectives.

The sources and the effects on health as stated within the DEFRA Technical Guidance TG(09) are available to view.

In our district, we are concerned with two main pollutants resulting from transport emissions. These are nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and particulate matter under 10 microns (PM10). We also monitor for the gas ozone (O3).

Nitrogen Dioxide

Nitric oxide (NO) is mainly derived from road transport emissions and other combustion processes such as the electricity supply industry. Nitric oxide is not considered to be harmful to health. However, once released to the atmosphere, NO is usually very rapidly oxidized, mainly by ozone (O3), to nitrogen dioxide (NO2), which can be harmful to health. Nitrogen dioxide and NO are both oxides of nitrogen and together are referred to as nitrogen oxides (NOX).
Nitrogen dioxide can irritate the lungs and lower resistance to respiratory infections such as influenza. Continued or frequent exposure to concentrations that are typically much higher than those normally found in the ambient air may cause increased incidence of acute respiratory illness in children.

Fine Particles (PM10, PM2.5 and PM1)

Fine particles are composed of a wide range of materials arising from a variety of sources including: combustion sources (such as road traffic); secondary particles, mainly sulphate and nitrate formed by chemical reactions in the atmosphere, and often transported from far across Europe; coarse particles, suspended soils and dusts (e.g., from the Sahara), sea salt, biological particles and particles from construction work. 

Particles are measured in a number of size fractions according to their mean aerodynamic diameter. Most monitoring is currently focused on PM10, but the finer fractions such as PM2.5 and PM1 are becoming of increasing interest in terms of health effects. Fine particles can be carried deep into the lungs where they can cause inflammation and a worsening of the condition of people with heart and lung diseases. In addition, they may carry surface-absorbed carcinogenic compounds into the lungs.

Sulphur Dioxide

Sulphur dioxide (SO2) is produced when a material, or fuel, containing sulphur is burned. Globally, much of the SO2 in the atmosphere comes from natural sources, but in the UK the predominant source is power stations burning fossil fuels, principally coal and heavy oils. Widespread domestic use of coal can also lead to high local concentrations of SO2.

Even moderate concentrations may result in a fall in lung function in asthmatics. Tightness in the chest and coughing occur at high levels, and lung function of asthmatics may be impaired to the extent that medical help is required. Sulphur dioxide pollution is considered more harmful when particulate and other pollution concentrations are high.

Benzene

Benzene is a volatile organic compound (VOC) which is a minor constituent of petrol. The main sources of benzene in the atmosphere in Europe are the distribution and combustion of petrol. Of these, combustion by petrol vehicles is the single biggest source (70% of total).
Possible chronic health effects include cancer, central nervous system disorders, liver and kidney damage, reproductive disorders, and birth defects.

1,3-Butadiene

1,3-butadiene, like benzene, is a VOC emitted into the atmosphere principally from fuel combustion of petrol and diesel vehicles. 1,3-butadiene is also an important chemical in certain industrial processes, particularly the manufacture of synthetic rubber.
Possible chronic health effects include cancer, central nervous system disorders, liver and kidney damage, reproductive disorders, and birth defects.

Carbon Monoxide

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colourless, odourless poisonous gas produced by incomplete, or inefficient, combustion of fuel. It is predominantly produced by road transport, in particular petrol-engine vehicles. This gas prevents the normal transport of oxygen by the blood. This can lead to a significant reduction in the supply of oxygen to the heart, particularly in people suffering from heart disease.

Lead

Since the introduction of unleaded petrol in the UK there has been a significant reduction in urban lead levels. In recent years industry, in particular secondary non-ferrous metal smelters, have become the most significant contributors to emissions of lead. The highest concentrations of lead and heavy metals are now therefore found around these installations in industrial areas.

Even small amounts of lead can be harmful, especially to infants and young children. In addition, lead taken in by the mother can interfere with the health of the unborn child. Exposure has also been linked to impaired mental function, visual-motor performance and neurological damage in children, and memory and attention span.

Ozone

Ozone is what is referred to as a "secondary" pollutant. That is, there are no direct emissions of ozone into the atmosphere. The ozone is formed as a result of the action of sunlight on other pollutants present in the atmosphere (such as nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds). This means that local control of ozone pollution is difficult, and hence it is not one of the pollutants dealt with under the local air quality management regime.

Ozone is a particular problem during summer months (May to August), and concentrations tend to be higher in the south-east than elsewhere in the UK, due to our proximity to continental sources of the chemicals which form ozone. Exposure to high concentrations of ozone may cause irritation of the eyes and nose, but typical peak levels are more usually associated with airway irritation and related effects.

Monitoring

Our Environmental Management team monitors air quality across the district.

The data is used to produce documents reporting air quality trends and statistics. These documents are explained and available to download at Review and Assessment.
There are seven main pollutants for which the Government has released National Air Quality Standards and Objectives. An explanation of these, the standards and effects on health can be found on the 'Health Effects' page. Through the review and assessment process, it has been determined that Chichester is only at risk of exceeding the Objectives for nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and Particulates under 10 microns (PM10) from transport emissions. We also monitor for Ozone which is a "secondary" pollutant. That is, there are no direct emissions of ozone into the atmosphere. The ozone is formed as a result of the action of sunlight on other pollutants present in the atmosphere (such as nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds). Details of these can be found under 'health effects'.

Real Time Monitoring

Real-time or automatic air quality analysers produce high-resolution measurements of continuous data over short averaging periods (15 minutes). Air is sampled on a real-time basis and made available online (see link to Sussex-air website).
Data collected is stored internally in a data logger. This is downloaded twice a day and is interrogated and analysed by the Environmental Research Group (ERG), Kings College London. All analysers are calibrated on a bi-monthly basis and serviced and maintained to a high standard to ensure accurate data collection.
In July 2001, we commissioned a sophisticated mobile air quality monitoring station on the A27 Chichester Bypass close to the canal. This station continuously monitors for concentrations of NO2, PM10 and records meteorological conditions.
In December 2005, an air quality monitoring station continuously recording levels of O3 was installed in the rural area of Lodsworth. Ozone concentrations tend to be higher in open rural areas whereas NO2 and PM10 concentrations are greater in urban areas.
In October 2008, a third monitoring station was installed at the east end of Orchard Street in Chichester near Northgate. This station continuously monitors for NO2.
Locations of the Monitoring sites at Stockbridge, Orchard Street, St Pancras and Lodsworth can be viewed as a pdf file.

Diffusion Tube Monitoring

Nitrogen dioxide is also monitored at numerous locations around the city. This is done on a monthly basis using the simpler method of diffusion tubes. The results are not as accurate as the real-time methods however three diffusion tubes are co-located at our A27 real-time site which allows us to bias correct the tubes.
The tubes are used to supplement data where real-time continuous monitoring is unavailable helping us monitor air quality over a larger geographical area. They are a fraction of the cost of installing a real time station and can be moved instantly to provide readings where air quality is thought to be poor.
Annual results of the tube concentrations (along with the real time monitoring results) can be found under 'Review and Assessment'. These are available to read online as a pdf.
Locations of the Monitoring sites at Stockbridge, Orchard Street, St Pancras and Lodsworth can be viewed as a pdf file.