Waverley's air quality role

Find out how we monitor local air quality and what the air quality is like near you.

Air quality objectives

How do we monitor air quality?

Does Waverley have an air quality problem?

Waverley reports on air quality

Domestic bonfires

Clean Air Act approvals

Farnham traffic management and low emission targets

Air quality report 2016

Waverley must report annually on its progress towards delivering the Government's air quality objectives. Read the 2016 report.


Air quality objectives

Waverley has a duty to monitor local air quality and to take action where local air pollutants exceed objectives set out in the Government's .  These national air quality objectives define maximum limits for different air pollutants which are intended to safeguard people's health.

Local air pollution is mainly a result of human activities that involve burning fossil fuels - including driving or power generation.

The Air-UK website site gives background detail on the causes of smogs and is a useful source of all UK information on air quality. It also provides an up-to-date bulletin on the air quality in your area.

You can also phone the Air Pollution Information Service free on 0800 556677 to get the pollution forecast for the south east.


How do we monitor air quality?

We monitor air quality in Waverley using three continuous air quality monitoring stations and a network of passive diffusion tube samplers.

Waverley's three air quality monitoring units are in or adjacent to the three air quality management areas in Farnham, Godalming and Hindhead. These units produce real-time readings of air pollution levels that show whether pollution is exceeding the Government's hourly objective for specific pollutants. These objectives are exceeded only where they affect 'local receptors' - for example places where people live, work or go to school.

Currently all these units monitor nitrogen dioxide, while the unit in Farnham monitors levels of particulates (PM10s). If you are interested in real time data for a specific period email ann-marie.wade@waverley.gov.uk

Diffusion tubes give an indication of average pollution levels for the year and identify where more work may be needed to assess local air pollution.  

There are diffusion tubes at 50 locations across the borough, their location and results of air monitoring are included in the most recent annual air quality report. The diffusion tube data helps Waverley monitor whether the Government's annual air quality objective for nitrogen dioxide (annual average maximum of 40 micrograms per cubic metre) is being met.

It is important to get a mixture of data from both roadside and background locations to provide a good overall picture of air quality in Waverley. If you would like more information about monitoring locations near you please contact ann-marie.wade@waverley.gov.uk

Data from both the automatic monitoring sites and the diffusion tubes will need to be analysed and ratified at the end of each year in order to iron out any anomalies.

This data is also available in Waverley's annual reports (air quality reviews and assessments) on air quality.


Does Waverley have an air quality problem?

Waverley has been monitoring air quality in the borough for a number of years in line with the 1995 Environment Act which imposed a duty on local authorities to assess the level of certain air pollutants and take action where these levels exceed the national objectives set by the Government. 

Full details of the objectives and the deadlines for achieving them can be found on the Air-UK website .

Our ongoing programme of monitoring and assessment showed that levels of one of these key pollutants - nitrogen dioxide (NO2) - was exceeding one of the Government's objectives in three locations in Waverley.

This led to the declaration of three Air Quality Management Areas (AQMAs) in Farnham, Godalming and Hindhead in 2005. The Farnham AQMA was extended in 2007. 

  • Farnham AQMA - includes areas of The Borough, South Street, East Street, West Street and the Woolmead.
  • Godalming AQMA - part of Ockford Road and Flambard Way
  • Hindhead AQMA - crossroads of the A3 Portsmouth to London Road and the A287 between Haslemere and Farnham
  • The most recent Updating and Screening Assessment (USA, 2012) report determined that exceedances of the national air quality objectives were likely for nitrogen dioxide (NO2) at the following sites:
-         Flambard Way, Godalming, in proximity to the junction with Brighton Road / Whart Street.

-         Holloway Hill, Godalming, in proximity to the junction with Flambard Way.

-         High Street, Haslemere, between Cobden Lane and Church Road,

Detailed sssessments will be carried at these locations.

See maps of the individual AQMAs. 


Waverley reports on air quality

Waverley must report annually on its progress towards delivering the Government's air quality objectives.

The air quality reviews follows a three-year time cycle pre-set by Defra (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) with an Updating and Screening Assessment (USA) in the first year and progress reports or detailed assessment reports in the following years depending on the results of the USA. The USA is then repeated every third year.

The USA is the first step in the review and assessment process. This report identifies any matters that have changed which may lead to a risk of air quality objectives being exceeded. The USA report includes a summary of air monitoring and an update on annual progress in delivering the Air Quality Action Plan.

The Air Quality Progress Reports (which are published each year between USA reports) include the summary of air monitoring and provide updates on progress in delivering the Air Quality Action Plan, along with a summary of planning consents that potentially might impact air quality within Waverley.

Where the Updating and Screening Assessment or the Annual Air Quality Progress Report identify a risk that the air quality objective is likely to be breached at a location with "relevant public exposure" (i.e. places where people live, work or go to school) the local authority will have to carrying out a Detailed Assessment study of this area.

The aim of a Detailed Assessment study is to confirm whether or not there is a risk that the air Quality Objectives are being breached, if the Detailed Assessment confirms the concentration of air pollution exceeds the recommended level, the local authority must determine the area affected by high concentration of the pollution and declare an Air Quality Management Area (AQMA) in this location.

Once an AQMA has been declared the council must published an Air Quality Action Plan (AQAP) showing how air quality will be improved within borough.

Following publication of the Air Quality Action Plan in April 2009, Waverley reports annually on it's progress in implementing air quality improvement measures. 

The full versions of all the council's air quality assessment reports can be accessed from the download page under Air Quality Review and Assessment


Air quality and domestic bonfires

Smoke and smells from garden bonfires impact on air quality. Find out more about garden bonfires and their impact  - and Waverley's role. 


Clean Air Act approvals

The Clean Air Act (1993) gives local authorities powers to control emissions of dark smoke, grit, dust and fumes from industrial premises and furnaces.

It also enables them to declare "smoke control areas" in which it is an offence to emit smoke from a chimney of a building, from a furnace or from any fixed boiler.  There are no smoke control areas in Waverley.

Section 14 of the Act requires Waverley to approve the height of a chimney. Without approval it is an offence to cause or knowingly permit a furnace to be used to burn:

  • pulverised fuel,
  • any other solid matter at a rate of 45.4 kg or more an hour,
  • any liquid or gaseous matter at a rate equivalent to 366.4 kW or more.


Farnham traffic management and low emission targets

Following on from our initial study, further work has been undertaken to consider existing and future traffic management options.

Air quality in Farnham

Farnham is one of over 250 locations in the UK where local councils have had to declare an Air Quality Management Area. This is due to higher than targeted levels of Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2), mainly from traffic.

The council prepared an Air Quality Action Plan (AQAP) in July 2008 to assess the effectiveness of existing and proposed traffic management options and to determine which would deliver satisfactory reductions in emissions to produce lower concentrations of nitrogen dioxide.

How bad is the air quality in Farnham?

In 2014, the maximum measured concentration of NO2 was 56.9µg/m³.  Elevated concentrations of nitrogen dioxide are not a problem to healthy people, unless at very high concentrations, which are rarely present in Waverley.

However, it can cause problems in sensitive groups such as young children or people with asthma. Those people with respiratory illnesses may also be sensitive to nitrogen dioxide levels.  A health impact assessment of pollution levels in Farnham was undertaken and Waverley published this in October 2014.

Why is there an Air Quality Management Area (AQMA) in Farnham?

An AQMA is an area that Local Authorities are obliged to create where local air pollution is unlikely to achieve the national air quality objectives, set by central government.

An AQMA must encompass, as a minimum, the area of exceedance of an air quality objective. Within the AQMA, the Local Authority has a duty to consider and implement measures to try and bring about an improvement in air quality such that concentrations reduce to below the level of the objective.

We have identified areas where the measured concentrations exceeded these objectives, and, following Detailed Assessments, three areas of the borough were declared to be AQMAs. Farnham is one and Godalming and Hindhead are the other two. All of these areas were due to traffic-related NO2 pollution and the Hindhead AQMA has now been revoked.

Will the Brightwells development make air quality worse in Farnham?

The reports have studied pollution levels for Farnham as they were in 2010. They have also modelled future levels for 2016, for example assuming there are no changes compared to 2010 and assuming that currently planned developments, including Brightwells, are in place.

The reports show a decrease in pollution levels with planned for developments in place in 2016 compared to without them.  

How long will it take to reduce pollution levels?

The pollutant we measure is NO2, which disperses very quickly and easily. Anything that reduces the rate at which NO2 is generated will have an almost immediate effect on pollution.

For example if all vehicles stayed away from the town centre for a day, levels would decrease significantly that same day.

Do the reports' recommendations mean I shouldn't drive into the town centre?

There are many things people can do to reduce traffic pollution in Farnham or in Waverley generally.

The reports identify diesel cars as one of the bigger contributors and recommends that steps to encourage changes in their contribution are looked at. Government funding is being provided for this. Even so, petrol and diesel engines all produce NO2 so anything you can do to reduce driving will help with pollution.

Is there anything I can do to help?

Everyone can help to improve air quality within their area by making a number of changes /choices.  Many of these changes will also help to reduce climate change impacts:

  • Where possible, avoid using your car for short, local journeys. Is a car essential for your journey? Can you walk or cycle? Or take the bus?
  • Start a walking bus to get your children to school, rather than using your car for the school run. Walking to school is a healthy way to start the day.
  • Avoid idling - turn off your car engine whilst waiting.
  • Switch to a cleaner fuel, such as electric. Avoid purchasing a diesel vehicle.
  • Avoid accelerating and braking hard; driving more smoothly will reduce fuel consumption, reducing emissions and saving you money.
  • Ensure your car tyres are at the correct pressure, to reduce fuel consumption.
  • Where possible, investigate grants and schemes to improve insulation of your property.
  • Insulation will reduce the amount of energy used to heat the property, which in turn reduces both emissions and energy bills.
  • Install thermostats and timers to heating.

Page owner: Paul Shrimpton. Last updated: 19/05/2017 16:43