In May 1997 the Government produced the National Air Quality Strategy (NAQS). The strategy represents a comprehensive approach to maintaining and improving the quality of ambient air in the United Kingdom. In Breckland, as well as recording meteorological data, the monitoring station is equipped to monitor for: fine particles (PM10) oxides of nitrogen (NOx) ozone (O3) There is also an extensive network of diffusion tubes for NO2
Outlined in the strategy are the air quality objectives for the main pollutants the Government feels are of most concern at present and the dates it feels these targets should be met. These pollutants are:
PM10 describes the fraction of airborne particulate matter that is less than 10 microns in size (<10 µm). Fine particles are of the greatest concern since they are capable of being easily transported over long distances on currents of air. Also, fine particles may be drawn into the respiratory airways where they may adversely affect health. Recently, the attention of scientists has been drawn towards studying the PM2.5 fraction and even smaller particles, which can penetrate the very deepest parts of the lung.
PM10 and other particulate matter may vary considerably in chemical and physical composition. The principal sources of these particles are combustion processes, including traffic and industry.
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.
Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2)
Nitrogen dioxide is one of a number of nitrogen oxides, which are formed during high temperature combustion processes. Road traffic is the main source, accounting for approximately 50% of all European emissions. Therefore, concentrations tend to be highest in urban environments with high traffic levels. Large industrial sources can also have a significant impact.
Nitrogen dioxide is a respiratory irritant and also plays a part in the production of another atmospheric pollutant, Ozone. Nitrogen oxides remain in the atmosphere for approximately one day before they are oxidised to nitric acid. Nitrogen oxides are therefore a contributory factor in the production of acid rain.
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.
Further information can be found by following the link to the UK National Air Quality Information Archive.
Local Air Quality Management (LAQM)
We are required to carry out regular reviews and assessments of air quality in our area against standards and objectives prescribed in regulations for the purpose of Local Air Quality Management (LAQM) before undertaking Action Planning if air quality is found to breach the regulations.
Summary of previous review and assessments carried out by Breckland Council
Exceedance of the objective for PM10 at East Wretham Heath SSSI
Declaration of an Air Quality Management Area for PM10 at East Wretham Heath SSSI in 2005. See Appendix 1
No exceedances of any objectives likely and no more than the permitted number of exceedances for AQMA (PM10) 2005/06
No exceedances of any objectives likely.
Exceedance of annual objective for NO2 at London Street, Swaffham.
No exceedances of any objectives likely. It is noted that NO2 in London Street, Swaffham is close to the annual objective
No exceedance of any objectives likely. It is noted that NO2 in London Street, Swaffham is close to the annual objective
Exceedence of the annual objective for NO2 in Swaffham was reported and the intention to submit a Detailed Assessment for this was stated.
The AQMA declared in 2005 for PM10 was revoked in 2011
Exceedence for nitrogen dioxide and therefore concluded that a Detailed Assessment should be produced for Swaffham.
Bureau Veritas employed to carry out a Detailed Assessment for Swaffham. Concluded no AQMA as exceedence small but to continue monitoring to assess effects of proposed developments.
No exceedances of any objectives likely. It is noted that NO2 in London Street, Swaffham is close to the annual objective, and monitoring will continue.
Exceedence for nitrogen dioxide identified at Swaffham. Defra recommend if "exceedences continue in 2014, Breckland should consider whether they need to revisit the 2012 detailed assessment". Monitoring will continue and the 2015 Report (2014 data) will be produced in April 2015.
Exceedence for nitrogen dioxide identified at Swaffham. The Council will proceed to a Detailed Assessment which includes a traffic options feasibility study. Monitoring will continue and the 2016 Progress Report (2015 data) and a Detailed Assessment will be produced in April 2016.
|2016||No exceedence, but Swaffham still close to annual objective. Detailed assessment underway monitoring to continue.|
At the Cabinet meeting on 21 March 2017, it was agreed that an Air Quality Management Area (AQMA) for traffic related nitrogen dioxide (NO2) be declared in Swaffham. The boundary is marked on the Air Quality Management Area Order.
Previous monitoring has shown that the annual objective for NO2 has been exceeded on a number of occasions. Despite proactive measures, as set out in previous Annual Reports (see the Council website), NO2 concentrations have remained above the annual objective. We are therefore required to declare an AQMA and produce an Action Plan over the coming months that will set out measures we can take to reduce NO2.
We currently have a district wide nitrogen dioxide (NO2) network of over 20 NO2 diffusion tubes and two continuous analysers. Diffusion tubes give us monthly averages and the continuous analysers give us hourly average information. These figures, and the locations of the tubes and analysers, are used to produce the reports in the list above.
Breckland and Norfolk Air Quality
Please follow link for information and maps regarding Breckland and Norfolk air quality.
This shows the automatic monitoring information for Swaffham and East Wretham in the Breckland District. You can also see the rest of the County for comparison.
The new technical guidance published in 2016 reduced the requirement to report on benzene, 1.3 tubatiene, carbon monoxide and lead, and focus on nitrogen dioxide, sulphurdioxide and fine particles.
fine particles (PM10) and PM 2.5 (not yet an objective)
Local Authorities have a duty to review and assess the levels of these pollutants in their areas, and predict whether national action is sufficient to bring about compliance with the objectives.
Where a failure is envisaged, the area concerned is to be declared an Air Quality Management Area (AQMA).