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Local Air Quality Management

The UK Government's strategic policies for tackling air quality formed part of the 1995 Environment Act, which provided the legal framework for development of the Government's National Air Quality Strategy, published in 1997. The 1995 Environment Act requires local authorities (any unitary or district authority) to review air quality and to assess whether the air quality standards and objectives, set out by the National Air Quality Strategy, are being achieved. A local authority, for any area where the air quality standards are not being met, will then be obliged to issue an order designating an air quality management area.

The major components of air quality management are generally considered to be emissions monitoring, air quality monitoring, standards and guidelines, air quality modelling, public information, alert procedures, land use planning and transport integration. Many of these activities in the UK to date have been directed at short term improvement in air quality rather than seeking to develop structures capable of ensuring progressive long term improvements in air quality. Central government has recognised the need to provide an integrated framework for the identification and subsequent management of areas in which air quality may be a problem. Local authorities are to bear the primary responsibility for this, with the co-operation of bodies such as the Environment Agency.

The success of the strategy will be judged according to its success in reducing emissions of a range of air pollutants against specified local targets over an agreed time scale, and improving air quality.