The Environment Act 1995 introduced a system of local air quality management (LAQM). This places legal duties on local authorities to check air quality in their areas against objectives for seven air pollutants set out in the in The Air Quality (England) Regulations 2000 and The Air Quality (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2002.
Air quality objectives
National air quality objectives are concentrations of air quality pollutants that are considered acceptable, given the known effects they may have on health and the environment.
As required by the law, where a local authority considers that objectives are unlikely to be met, an air quality management area must be declared. This area shows where air pollution exceeds acceptable levels and Waverley must put in place an Action Plan to improve air quality.
Pollutants in Waverley
Waverley currently meets six of the air quality objectives relevant to LAQM (for lead, sulphur dioxide, benzene, 1,3 butadiene, carbon monoxide and PM10 particulates).
In common with many other urban areas in the UK, the principal pollutant of concern in Waverley is nitrogen dioxide (NO2).
Levels of air pollution are a particular issue for the town centres of Farnham and Godalming close to busy roads.
Find out more about Air Quality Management Areas (AQMAs) in Waverley
Surrey County Council's role
A major source of air pollution in Surrey is from motor vehicle emissions. Surrey County Council is the Highways Authority for Waverley, so it plays a crucial role in helping to achieve national air quality objectives.
The Surrey Transport Plan describes the statutory framework, the nature of the problem, and the County Council's strategies in this area. The Plan incorporates a Low Emissions Transport Strategy and an Electric Vehicle Strategy.
Poor air quality is a significant public health issue. The Public Health Outcomes Framework for England includes an indicator associated with air pollution for fine particles and Directors of Public Health are encouraged to prioritise action on air quality in their local area to help reduce the health burden from air pollution.
Surrey County Council's Health and Wellbeing Board has a duty to produce a Joint Health and Wellbeing Strategy for Surrey based on the Joint Strategic Needs Assessment as a basis for Surrey's priorities. The Joint Strategic Needs Assessment is an assessment of the current and future health and social care needs of the local community. One of the priorities identified in the Joint Health and Wellbeing Strategy is air quality (Priority 2: Developing a Preventative Approach).
Surrey Air Alliance
Waverley Borough Council is an active participant of the Surrey Air Alliance. This is a working group formed of representatives from Surrey County Council's Transport and Public Health teams, as well as officers from the eleven district and borough councils in Surrey.