Air Quality Assesment

Air Quality Assesment

What is this?

An assessment including the following:

  • a description of baseline conditions and how these could change;
  • relevant air quality concerns;
  • the assessment methods to be adopted and any requirements around verification of modelling air quality;
  • sensitive locations;
  • the basis for assessing impact and determining the significance of an impact;
  • construction phase impact; and/or
  • acceptable mitigation measures.

When is it required?

Applications that are likely to give rise to emissions to air of pollutants for which there is a national air quality objective, or for which there may otherwise be a significant impact upon local air quality meeting the criteria set out in the adjacent guidance column.

Applications likely to be affected by poor air quality (e.g. new residential development in area of existing poor air quality i.e. Air Quality Management Area)

NB1 Air quality can be a concern if it is likely to adversely impact on an area, particularly if in a known area of poor air quality. Concerns can also arise where a development is likely to hamper the implementation of an Air Quality Action Plan and in particular lead to a breach of European Union legislation.

NB2 A separate Air Quality Assessment may not be required where it will be submitted as part of a formal EIA for a major development.

Planning proposals with potential effects upon air quality within 10km of European designated sites (and 5 km of UK designated sites such as sites of Special Scientific Interest or SSSI) should be accompanied by an air quality screening assessment. Intensive livestock units (poultry and pigs) provide an example of a relevant development type.

Why is this required?

Action to manage and improve air quality is largely driven by EU legislation. The 2008 Ambient Air Quality Directive sets legally binding limits for concentrations in outdoor air of major air pollutants that impact public health such as particulate matter (PM10 and PM2.5) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2). As well as having direct effects, these pollutants can combine in the atmosphere to form ozone, a harmful air pollutant (and potent greenhouse gas) which can be transported great distances by weather systems.

Defra carries out an annual national assessment of air quality using modelling and monitoring to determine compliance with EU Limit Values. It is important that the potential impact of new development on air quality is taken into account in planning where the national assessment indicates that relevant limits have been exceeded or are near the limit.


When type of planning applications require an Air Quality Assessment

An Air Quality Assessment must accompany all planning applications which include:

  • Proposals that will give rise to a significant change in either traffic volumes, typically a change in annual average daily traffic or peak traffic flows of greater than ±5% or ±10% depending on local circumstances. The new guidance recommends that an Air Quality assessment should be required if there is a change of ±5% within or close to an Air Quality Management Area, outside it is ±10%. For roads with an annual average daily traffic flow of 10,000+ and vehicle speeds change by ±10kph then an Air Quality assessment would also be required.
  • Proposals that significantly alter traffic composition (i.e. an increase in the number of HGVs of 200 movements or more per day).
  • Proposals that include significant new car parking, which is taken to be 100 spaces outside of an Air Quality Management Area and just 50 within one. Previously there was a blanket approach of 300 spaces. This should also include proposals for new coach or lorry parks. 
  • Proposals that include biomass boilers or biomass-fuelled CHP plant, regardless of whether they are in an Air Quality Management Area or not.
  • The new guidance also recommends that consideration should be given to the impacts of centralised boilers or CHP plant burning other fuels (e.g. gas or oil) within or close to an Air Quality Management Area.
  • Air Quality assessments are also required for large, long term construction sites that would generate large HGV flows (>200 movements per day) over a period of a year or more.
  • Introduction  of  new  exposure  close  to  existing  sources  of  air  pollutants,  including  road  traffic, industrial operations, agricultural operations etc

Further Advice and Guidance

Details of Air Quality Management Areas within East Staffordshire can be emailed to you on request:

Natural England ‘SSSI Impact Risk Zones’ dataset is an additional way for the Council to screen whether proposals have potential air quality effects on SSSI.

Applicants are advised to seek specialist expertise and to discuss their proposals with East Staffordshire Pollution Control Team on 01283 508524 at an early stage in the design process.

Environment Agency - 03708 506 506 -

Natural England - 0845 600 3078 -

The London Council’s Control of Dust and Emissions from Construction and Demolition: Best Practice (2006).

IAQM Guidance on the Assessment of Impacts of Construction on Air Quality and Determination of their Significance (2012).

APIS provides specific air pollution advice based on habitats, ecosystems and species.