Air Quality

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Air Quality

The Air Quality Regulations 2000 and Amendment Regulations 2002 set out objective levels for six air pollutants of concern to health. The objectives are set at levels below which even the most sensitive individual would not feel adverse effects upon their health. All local authorities are required to periodically review and assess air pollution levels for the six pollutants in their geographic areas. These pollutants are:

  • Nitrogen dioxide
  • PM (10)
  • Sulphur dioxide
  • Carbon monoxide
  • Lead
  • 1,3-butadiene

The pollutants above arise from a variety of sources; the main source for nitrogen dioxide, PM (10), benzene, 1,3-butadiene and carbon monoxide in Enfield is road traffic. Sulphur dioxide is emitted predominantly from power stations burning fossil fuels. Lead is emitted from industry, in particular, non-ferrous metal smelters. There are no major sources of lead or sulphur dioxide in the borough.

The introduction of air quality management was as a result of European Union Directives which were transposed into British law. The situation being that if the country does not meet the objective dates the Government is liable for prosecution and heavy fines.

Local Air Quality Management in Enfield

The Council is required to work towards meeting the air quality objectives in our area. The Council is not legally responsible for meeting them, but we must demonstrate that we are taking steps to meet them if exceedances of the air quality objectives are predicted.

The first round of air quality review and assessment was completed in 2001 when the Council’s Stage III air quality report concluded that it was likely that we would exceed the air quality objectives for nitrogen dioxide annual average objective and PM (10) 24-hourly average objective in the borough along heavily trafficked routes. The report also concluded that there was relevant public exposure along these routes above the averaging period for both pollutants. Consequently the Council declared the whole of the borough as an Air Quality Management Area (AQMA) for nitrogen dioxide and PM (10).

An AQMA declaration is a legal requirement where there are predictions of exceedances of an air quality objective. The AQMA is purely an administrative area where the Council will work towards meeting the air quality objectives. The reason the whole borough was declared as an AQMA was because the areas of exceedance were widespread and could not easily be tied down to small areas. The Council then undertook a Stage IV report which provided source apportionment for both pollutants allowing the Council to then produce an Air Quality Action Plan. In March 2013 the Council concluded the consultation on the latest Air Quality Action Plan which is now in place.

The subsequent rounds of review and assessment have all concluded that the Council’s AQMA is still appropriate and that we continue to have exceedances of the objectives for nitrogen dioxide and PM (10). The main source of pollution in the borough, and indeed country-wide, is road traffic. Problems arise on roads which are heavily trafficked or have large amounts of congestion. Typically in the borough these are the major trunk roads which are owned by Transport for London (TfL).

The only real way of reducing pollution from traffic is to reduce vehicle numbers and improve the vehicle fleet to the most environmentally-friendly vehicles available. Both of these methods are beyond the Council’s control and require action from Central Government to achieve.

The Council can, and has, taken actions to improve air quality, the most important being supporting the implementation of the London Low Emission Zone (LEZ). Other actions include assisting Enfield’s schools in developing school travel plans and inspecting all the regulated processes to ensure emissions targets are met by operators. Also, the Council ran a vehicle emissions testing scheme and later was part of the London-wide vehicle emissions testing scheme. In addition, the Council has continuously updated its own fleet of vehicles using the most environmentally friendly vehicles available, therefore leading by example.

Air Quality Monitoring

Enfield Council currently has four real-time air quality monitoring stations which run 24 hours a day, 7 days a week; these are based at Derby Road near the A406, Bowes Primary, also on the A406, a site at John Jackson Library and the newest station at the Prince of Wales School.

At the monitoring stations there are analysers providing real-time data for nitrogen dioxide, PM (10) and sulphur dioxide. There are also a series of nitrogen dioxide diffusion tubes located throughout the Borough. These are used to provide indicative levels of this pollutant but are not as accurate as analysers.

All the data generated has been and continues to be invaluable in assessing the air quality issues in the Borough. This is because the data is used directly in all the Council’s air quality reports, and without it, the Council would not be able to provide year on year evidence of changes to pollution levels.

Pollutant levels vary year on year due to a number of factors; the most important are variations in traffic emissions and weather conditions. This is why it is important to monitor over a long period of time and have site continuity. Site continuity allows long-term trends to show-up and demonstrate any decline or increase in pollution levels. The data also demonstrates whether air quality objectives are being met or exceeded.

This page was last updated on 19-Jan-2015.