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UK Air Quality Strategy

The UK Air Quality Strategy (UKAQS) is the main national policy driver, which filters down into regional and local planning objectives and permitting requirements for improving air quality across the UK. It sets a number of “standard” concentrations that have to be achieved at sensitive receptor locations across the UK by various “objective” dates. These standards and objectives were arrived at from advice provided by the Committee on the Medical Effects of Air Pollutants (COMEAP) and the Expert Panel on Air Quality Standards (EPAQS).

The sensitive locations at which the standards and objectives apply are places where the population is expected to be exposed to the various pollutants over the particular averaging periods defined in the UKAQS. The most common sensitive receptor locations used to measure concentrations against the set standards are areas of residential housing. Schools and hospitals are also key locations that are considered to be sensitive to air pollution.

At sensitive receptor locations where an objective concentration has been predicted to be exceeded, a local planning authority should declare an Air Quality Management Area (AQMA). In setting an AQMA, the local planning authority must then formulate an Action Plan to seek to reduce pollution concentrations to values below the objective levels. In determining whether or not an AQMA needs to be declared, a local planning authority produces an ongoing series of air quality review and assessment reports. These seek to audit, measure and predict pollution concentrations at sensitive receptor locations where the UKAQS objectives might be exceeded.

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