The Air Quality Strategy for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland (latest version published in July 2007) establishes the framework for air quality improvements across the UK. Measures agreed at the national and international level are the foundations on which the strategy is based. The strategy sets out the UK Air Quality Standards and Objectives which have been set in order to measure the improvement of air quality and are discussed below.
In January 2019, the UK Department for Environment, Food and Affairs published the UK Clean Air Strategy. This strategy seeks to achieve the following stated goals:
There are a wide range of terms and concepts in national and international initiatives, for example, standards, objectives, target values and limit values. The two which feature within the UK’s air quality strategy are standards and objectives. The EU Ambient Air Quality Directive and fourth Daughter Directive contain Limit Values and Target Values. The national Air Quality Objectives and EU limit and target values with which the UK must comply are summarised in the National air quality objectives of the Air Quality Strategy and are presented in the tables below.
A system of Local Air Quality Management (LAQM) has been in place in the UK since 1997, with the overall aim of ensuring that the national air quality objectives will be achieved in all areas. Defra and the Devolved Administrations have issued Technical and Policy Guidance documents for LAQM, to ensure that all local authorities (district councils in Northern Ireland) follow best practice.
District councils are required to review their current air quality and assess whether any locations are likely to exceed the Air Quality Strategy Objectives. If they identify areas of exceedance then one or more Air Quality Management Areas (AQMAs) will need to be defined, and appropriate Action Plans developed and implemented. District councils are encouraged to work together, and to consult with other local stakeholders to ensure that the process is carried out in a transparent fashion. Kent and Medway local councils work together in an Air Quality Group and form the Kent and Medway Air Quality Network.
Information on LAQM in Kent and Medway, including details of AQMAs and Action Plans, is available from the LAQM and Reports sections of this website.