WIT Press

Recalibrating The United Kingdom’s Local Air Quality Management Regime To Deliver Desired Goals


Free (open access)





Page Range

73 - 82




278 kb

Paper DOI



WIT Press


J. W. S. Longhurst, J. Barnes, T. J. Chatterton, E. T. Hayes, J. G. Irwin & A. O. Olowoporoku


The UK has operated a sophisticated Local Air Quality Management (LAQM) regime since 1997. This comprises two distinct phases: Review and Assessment and Action Planning. The Review and Assessment is the diagnostic phase and concludes with declaration of an Air Quality Management Area (AQMA) where Air Quality Objectives (AQOs) are exceeded, which then initiates the Air Quality Action Plan intended to provide solutions to the identified problems. More than half of UK local authorities have one or more AQMAs. Air Quality Action Plans are expected to define measures and timescales by which air quality in the AQMA will comply with AQOs. The main source of the air quality exceedence is traffic-related NO2 or PM10. The Review and Assessment phase is effective at diagnosing air quality problems but the Air Quality Action Plan phase cannot yet be judged to be a successful policy intervention. Local authorities have limited powers to initiate direct actions amid concerns about the political impact of measures that will the process affect the car-driving public. In such circumstances local authorities have been unable to get traction on air quality management problems. Central to the LAQM regime is the division of responsibility between central government and local government. Whilst LAQM is a local responsibility, central government’s has an overarching role in controlling the regime through framing the process, defining national goals, setting strategic directions, and ensuring appropriate resourcing for national and local actions. Despite this national process guidance and direction local authorities are failing to achieve local air quality improvements at the rate expected when LAQM was introduced.


Environment Act 1995, air quality management, diagnosis, solutions, United Kingdom