WIT Press

Has UK Local Government Action Improved Local Air Quality? A Bristol Case Study


Free (open access)





Page Range

243 - 254




4,014 kb

Paper DOI



WIT Press


J. H. Barnes, E. T. Hayes, J. W. S. Longhurst


In 2013, the UK exceeded the EU limit value for nitrogen dioxide (NO2) annual mean at 31 of its 43 zones and agglomerations. Current government predictions are that full compliance will not be achieved until after 2030, with 65% zones still expected to be exceeding in 2020. In February 2014, the European Commission launched legal proceedings against the UK for its failure to cut excessive levels of NO2. However, there is an increasing onus on local authorities to manage air pollution locally and a legal threat in the Localism Act 2011 that may make them liable for any EU fines. This research has examined Local Air Quality Management (LAQM) reports and monitored concentrations of NO2 over the last 14 years for all local authorities with exceedances due to road traffic and, as previously reported to this conference series, found that there is insufficient appropriate data available to evaluate the LAQM process as a whole on this basis. Instead, six case study local authorities, for which sufficient data were available, were individually evaluated to determine whether any action plan measures could be associated with changes in local NO2 concentrations. This paper describes the methodology and findings with respect to the implementation of action plan measures, using Bristol City Council as an example. It examines some of the challenges of quantifying air quality impacts and attributing changes to implementation of measures, and makes recommendations for improvements to UK air quality management.


LAQM, action plans, local government, NO2, air quality objectives, limit values, traffic measures, local transport plans