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Air Quality

Air Quality

Each council has responsibility for measuring the quality of ambient air to ensure that it meets required standards in relation to the concentration of a defined range of pollutants such as lead, nitrogen dioxide, benzene etc.  View our recent air quality reports.

The Council is responsible for regulating industrial processes which have an effect on emissions to air. All premises involved are inspected annually to ensure their compliance with Environmental Protection legislation and pay an annual fee.

We also deal with complaints regarding smoke nuisance, bonfires, odours, gas emissions etc.

Air quality management

Under The Environment Act 1995, the National Air Quality Strategy outlines recommended maximum levels of eight pollutants based on medical and scientific evidence. The Expert Panel on Air Quality Standards (EPAQS) has set these levels as indicators of general air quality and to protect people's health and the environment. The pollutants are:

  • Nitrogen Dioxide
  • Benzene
  • Carbon Monoxide
  • Sulphur Dioxide
  • 1,3, Butadiene
  • Lead
  • Ozone
  • Particulates

Local Authorities are required by law to continually review air quality within their area in particular for these eight pollutants. This forms part of a periodic process of monitoring, data collection and predictive computer modelling known as "review and assessment". Annual reports must be prepared and submitted to the Government and where it is reported that any of the National Air Quality Objectives are likely to be breached the Council must declare an Air Quality Management Area and carry out more detailed assessments.

Air quality modelling techniques are used to predict trends in pollution levels by considering the effects of weather conditions, industrial emissions, traffic levels, vehicle types, etc. This is used to assess whether National Air Quality Objectives are likely to be exceeded. Where modelling predicts that there may be an exceedance this is confirmed by monitoring of the pollutant in question.

The most important pollutant for the Borough is nitrogen dioxide (NO2) which is associated  with road transport. NO2 is a pollutant that is produced by all combustion processes involving fossil fuels. Locally, roads are the main source of this pollutant and hence it is  of particular concern to people living close to busy routes.  At sufficiently high levels it is linked with the risk of decreased lung function and increased risk of respiratory problems, particularly in vulnerable groups such as children, the sick and the elderly. It may also exacerbate conditions for asthma sufferers.

The Objective level for NO2 is an annual average of 40 micrograms per cubic metre of air. This objective is being exceeded in parts of the Borough and has led to Nuneaton and Bedworth Borough Council declaring two Air Quality Management Areas (AQMAS) in Nuneaton. They are in Abbey Green Nuneaton and the Leicester Road Gyratory in Nuneaton. The AQMA's have been drawn up to include every premises that fronts onto the affected section of the identified roads. The annual mean air quality objective for nitrogen dioxide in AQMA1 has not been exceeded since 2012, whilst exceedance is predicted to continue in AQMA2 at a number of properties for some time to come.

A second objective value for short term NO2 requires that the hourly concentration does not exceed 200 micrograms per cubic metre of air on 18 occasions in a year. This value is not known to be exceeded in the Borough.

AQMA 1 - Leicester Rd Gyratory, Nuneaton 

  • This covers part of the A47 referred to as the 'Leicester Road Gyratory'. It is the one way system that includes parts of Weddington Road, Old Hinckley Road and Leicester Road Nuneaton.

AQMA2 - Midland Road to Corporation Street, Nuneaton 

  • This covers parts of the B4114 route including Midland Road, Central Avenue, Corporation Street and the Manor Court Road junction.

Nitrogen dioxide monitoring

Nitrogen dioxide is a gas which is produced when fossil fuels are burned. Exposure to nitrogen dioxide enhances the response to allergens in sensitive individuals such as those with asthma, bronchitis or respiratory disease. It may increase the prevalence of respiratory illnesses in children and is linked to the formation of other pollutants.

The main source of nitrogen dioxide in the UK is road traffic and pollution concentrations often increase where there is traffic congestion.

Environmental Health monitors for nitrogen dioxide (NO2) levels throughout the Borough using passive diffusion tubes and particularly in the Air Quality Management Areas.  Diffusion tubes are used extensively for NO2 to measure mean monthly and annual concentrations. These are small plastic tubes with a metal grid inside one end which is coated with a chemical called triethanolamine that absorbs the nitrogen dioxide. The tubes are exposed to air for a month then sealed and sent for analysis at an approved laboratory. Because of their low cost these tubes are used for wide spread assessment. There are over 40 of these tubes around The Borough on busy roads and road junctions. The monitoring sites have been chosen to validate the concentrations predicted by modelling for roadside positions and at the façades of properties. The results are used as the basis of our review and assessment process.

Action planning

We have now reviewed and updated our Air Quality Action Plan that will develop and implement measures that work towards future compliance with the NO2 Objective at both AQMA locations. The updated action plan is available here;

Air Quality Action Plan 2022 | Nuneaton & Bedworth (

Warwickshire County Council (WCC) is the local Highway Authority, and as such has had an important role in the actions proposed for the AQMAs in order to reduce road traffic emissions and achieve the necessary improvements in air quality.

Last updated Wednesday, 1st June 2022

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