Gloucester City Council has a duty to monitor local air quality and to take action where local air pollutants exceed objectives as set out in the UKs National Air Quality Objectives . These objectives define maximum limits for different pollutants which are intended to safeguard public health.
Local air pollution is mainly caused by human activities that involve the burning of fossil fuels – including vehicle journeys.
How do we monitor air quality?
We monitor local air quality in Gloucester using a network of passive diffusion tube samplers at a number of locations across the City.
Diffusion tubes look similar to test tubes and give an indication of average pollution levels for the year. They indicate where more work may be needed to assess local air pollution, for example when the data show the mean objectives for a particular pollutant are being exceeded.
The location of diffusion tubes and results of air monitoring are included in the most recent annual air quality report (please see below). It is important to get a mixture of data from both roadside and background locations to provide a good overall picture of air quality in Gloucester.
The diffusion tube data helps Gloucester monitor whether the government's annual air quality objective for nitrogen dioxide (annual average maximum of 40 micrograms per cubic metre) is being met. These objectives are exceeded only where they affect "local receptors" - for example places where people live, work or go to school.
Three Air Quality Management Areas (AQMAs) have been declared in Gloucester due to exceedences of the annual mean objective for NO2: Barton Street AQMA (in the City centre) and Priory Road AQMA (on the A417), both declared in 2005; and Painswick Road AQMA (extension of Barton Street), declared in 2007.
If you would like more information regarding air quality please email.
Does Gloucester City have an air quality problem?
Gloucester City has been monitoring air quality in the Borough for several years in line with the 1995 Environment Act. The Act imposes a duty on local authorities to assess the level of certain air pollutants and take action where these levels exceed the national objectives set by the Government.
Full details of the objectives and the deadlines for achieving them can be found on the Air-UK website.
Our ongoing programme of monitoring and assessment showed that levels of one of these key pollutants - nitrogen dioxide (NO2) - was exceeding one of the Government's objectives in three locations in Gloucester.
This led to the declaration of three Air Quality Management Areas (AQMAs) in Barton Street, Priory Road and Painswick Road.
However the majority of monitoring locations have seen the annual mean NO2 concentration decrease since 2013 which we believe in part is due to new vehicle technology i.e. cleaner vehicles and start/ stop technology etc.
How You Can Help
Local air pollution has local causes. These are the simple things you can do to help improve air quality in Gloucester:
- Car sharing - go shopping with friends or neighbours, take a colleague to work, or join a car share club or lift share.
- Travel smarter/ Using Public transport- follow think to Think Travel website
- Switch off your engine when stationary - if stuck in traffic or stopping more than a minute. Idling engines make sitting in jams even more unpleasant. Do not run the engine unnecessarily – drive off soon after starting (in some areas it may be an offence to leave the engine running).
- Walking and cycling – follow link to You Tube video on Air Pollution Exposure Experiment by Camden Council and Kings College London -
- Garden bonfires contribute to poor air quality locally - use alternative methods of disposal i.e. Hempsted Recycling Centre or sign up to the green garden waste collection service.
- Maintaining your vehicle - check tuning, tyre pressure, brakes and fuel consumption – regular servicing helps keep your car efficient and saves fuel.
Other car related tips include:
- Avoid using cars for short journeys – combine trips or, alternatively, walk, cycle, or take a bus.
- Lighten up – roof racks add drag and other unnecessary weight increases fuel consumption.
- When your tyres need replacing consider low rolling resistance replacements – ask your tyre fitter for advice.
- Drive gently – racing starts and sudden stops increase fuel consumption. Use higher gears when traffic conditions allow.
- Steady you speed – at around 50mph (80 kph) emissions will be lowest, rising dramatically above 70mph (110 kph).
- Air conditioning and on board electrical devices increase fuel consumption – only use them when really necessary.
- Investigate alternatives – If you're looking for a new car there are a number of different technologies and fuels available; existing cars can also be adapted to give off lower emissions.
Are there any electric vehicle charging points in Gloucester?
Yes there are currently two within the City limits and one just outside, please visit Charge Your Car.
Government Grants for Workplace and Domestic property electric vehicle charge points
The Government recently announced (29th November 2016) a pledge of £290 million boost for low emission vehicles (website)
The funding will be invested in a number of projects including £80 million to improve charging infrastructure for electric vehicle owners. The Workplace Charging Scheme (WCS) is now open for applications.
There is also an Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme (EVHS) which provides grant funding of up to 75% towards the cost of installing electric vehicle chargepoints at domestic properties across the UK.
Does Gloucester City have to report on air quality?
Gloucester City must report annually on its progress towards delivering the Government's air quality objectives.
The air quality reviews follow a three-year time cycle pre-set by Defra (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs), with an Updating and Screening Assessment (USA) in the first year and progress reports or detailed assessment reports in the following years depending on the results of the USA. The USA is then repeated every third year.
The Updating and Screening Assessment is the first step in the Review and Assessment process. This report identifies any matters that have changed which may lead to a risk of air quality objectives being exceeded. The USA report includes a summary of air monitoring and an update on annual progress in delivering the Air Quality Action Plan.
The Air Quality Progress Reports (which are published each year between USA reports) include the summary of air monitoring and provide updates on progress in delivering the Air Quality Action Plan, along with a summary of planning consents that potentially might impact air quality within Gloucester.
Where the Updating and Screening Assessment or the Annual Air Quality Progress Report identify a risk that the air quality objective is likely to be breached at a location with "relevant public exposure" (i.e. places where people live, work or go to school) the local authority will have to carrying out a Detailed Assessment study of this area.
The aim of a Detailed Assessment study is to confirm whether or not there is a risk that the air Quality Objectives are being breached, if the Detailed Assessment confirms the concentration of air pollution exceeds the recommended level, the local authority must determine the area affected by high concentration of the pollution and declare an Air Quality Management Area (AQMA) in this location.
Once an AQMA has been declared the Council must published an Air Quality Action Plan (AQAP) showing how air quality will be improved within the borough.
Following publication of the Air Quality Action Plan in April 2008, Gloucester City reports annually on its progress in implementing air quality improvement measures.
Q: Does your air quality work link in with the Local Strategic Transport Project (LSTP)?
A:Yes it does. If we are to achieve an improvement in air quality it will inevitably have to come from a reduction in car usage and the LSTP is key to this (website).
Ready to Burn
Last week saw the launch of the Woodsure Ready to Burn certification scheme. The purpose of the scheme is to help inform consumers about the importance of using clean, quality wood fuel to help reduce the impacts of domestic burning on the environment.
Open Fires and Wood Burning Stoves
Use of open fires and wood-burning stoves has risen in popularity over recent years. In fact this authority has seen an increase in the number of queries or complaints from residents about this issue.
This increase means that we are seeing more emissions of fine particulate matter from biomass burning and a subsequent increase in air pollution. Domestic wood and coal burning are now the single largest contributors to our harmful PM emissions comprising almost 40% in 2015. This compares to emissions from industrial combustion (17%) and road transport (13%). The tiny particles in smoke can cause a range of health impacts such as breathing problems and exacerbating asthma as well as contributing to other health conditions
To help this authority improve air quality in Gloucester please take the time to read the below leaflet. It provides simple steps for those that use wood burning stoves or open fires to reduce environmental and health impacts.