Air quality in York
Due to the health implications and costs associated with air quality, the government has set health based air quality objectives for seven of the most common pollutants found in our cities.
The Environment Act 1995 requires all local authorities to review and assess air quality in their areas and to declare Air Quality Management Areas (AQMAs) where the objectives set by the government are unlikely to be met. In January 2002, City of York Council declared an Air Quality Management Area (AQMA) based on predicted exceedances of the annual average nitrogen dioxide objective in five areas of the city. An 'annual average' concentration refers to the average hourly concentration of a pollutant when recorded over a full 12 month period.
In York the five areas of concern are located on or near to the inner ring road and are characterised by their enclosed nature and long periods of congested traffic. In each case there are residential properties located within 5 metres of the kerbside which constitute 'relevant' locations for the purpose of Local Air Quality Management. Relevant locations can be defined as outdoor, non-occupational locations (e.g. schools, care homes, hospitals and residential properties) where members of the public are likely to be regularly exposed to pollutants over the averaging time of the air quality objectives. The five areas of air quality concern in York are called the 'Technical Breach Areas'.
The declaration of the AQMA placed a legal duty on the council to improve air quality in the city and to demonstrate that it is actively pursuing the 40 ug/m3 annual objective. In order to demonstrate a commitment to improving air quality the council was required to prepare an Air Quality Action Plan (AQAP). The AQAP identifies measures the council intends to take to improve air quality in the city, following the declaration of the AQMA.