Air quality


This cross-cutting theme is now closed for comments.

You can read comments made since the start of the Red Tape Challenge in April 2011 below.

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These regulate pollutants released into the air.

They include provisions on smoke control areas, asbestos pollution and the Aviation Greenhouse Gas Emissions Trading Scheme. They also include EU and domestic provisions setting annual limits for emissions of certain pollutants, and setting standards for concentrations of pollutants in outdoor air.

You can find all 14 regulations that relate to air quality below to the left.

Clean Air Enactments (Repeals and Modifications) Regulations 1974

Made in consequence of the establishment of the Health and Safety Executive and the coming into operation on the 1st January 1975 of provisions of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974

 UK regulation

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Control of Asbestos in the Air Regulations 1990

Prevention of environmental pollution by asbestos

 UK regulation

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National Emission Ceilings Regulations 2002

Transposes EU directive 2001/81/EC aiming to limit transboundary air pollution effects in the EU by setting national emission ceilings to be met by 2010.

EU regulation

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Air Quality (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2002

These regulations amend the Air Quality (England) Regulations 2000 and set the air quality objectives for England.

 UK regulation

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The Air Quality Standards Regulations 2010

Transposes EU ambient air quality directives 2008/50/EC and 2004/107/EC relating to limits and targets for various pollutants in outdoor air for the protection of human health and the environment.

EU regulation

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The Smoke Control Areas (Authorised Fuels) (England) Regulations 2001

The Order allows certain fuels that do not emit significant smoke to be marketed for use in Smoke Control Areas.

 UK regulation

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The Smoke Control Areas (Authorised Fuels) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2002

The Order allows certain fuels that do not emit significant smoke to be marketed for use in Smoke Control Areas.

 UK regulation

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The Smoke Control Areas (Authorised Fuels) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2005

The Order allows certain fuels that do not emit significant smoke to be marketed for use in Smoke Control Areas.

 UK regulation

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The Smoke Control Areas (Authorised Fuels) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2006

The Order allows certain fuels that do not emit significant smoke to be marketed for use in Smoke Control Areas.

 UK regulation

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The Smoke Control Areas (Authorised Fuels) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2007

The Order allows certain fuels that do not emit significant smoke to be marketed for use in Smoke Control Areas.

 UK regulation

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The Smoke Control Areas (Exempted Fireplaces) (England) Order 2011

The Order allows certain approved appliances that do not emit significant smoke to be marketed for use in Smoke Control Areas.

 UK regulation

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Aviation Greenhouse Gas Emissions Trading Scheme (Amendment) Regulations 2011

Amends the 2010 aviation regulations to enable the UK to regulate aviation operators not on the central Commission list.

 UK regulation

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Aviation Greenhouse Gas Emissions Trading Scheme Regulations 2009

Part-transposes an EU Directive to introduce aviation into the EU Emissions Trading Scheme from 2012, in particular the reporting requirements needed for the start of 2010 for operators to receive free allocation of allowances.

EU regulation

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Aviation Greenhouse Gas Emissions Trading Scheme Regulations 2010

Completes transpostion of the revision to the EU Emissions Trading Scheme Directive to introduce aviation into the scheme from 2012

EU regulation

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Tell us what you think should happen to these regulations and why, being specific where possible:

For example, you might consider whether the Air Quality (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2002 could be combined with the Air Quality Standards Regulations 2010 to minimise the burden on compliant businesses and local authorities by streamlining and simplifying the current local air quality management system, and to improve alignment with EU requirements.

121 responses to Air quality

  • Harold Forbes said on September 20, 2011 at 1:12 pm

    These regulations relate to pollutants released into the air. Note the word POLLUTANTS. They could be easily simplified by passing a law that says “it is not permissible to release pollutants of any form into the air.”

    Comment Tags: not red tape

  • Robin Speed said on September 20, 2011 at 12:06 pm

    I think in general we should keep our air quality regulations while considerably tightening up those related to aviation emissions which have a disproportionate effect on climate change. Regulations related to acid rain are also still extremely relevant.

  • James P said on September 20, 2011 at 11:07 am

    How about enforcing air quality regs in London? Or fixing the EUETS so it doesn’t act as a subsidy to large-scale polluters [ text deleted ]The last thing we need is less ‘red tape’ – good quality environmental regulation creates opportunities for innovation, which creates wealth!

  • Dr juliana eccles said on September 20, 2011 at 9:59 am

    I think the regulations should stand as they are
    Clean air is vital for us all and the health implications of deteriorating air quality are both significant in terms of increased risk of morbidity and mortality and therefore in costs encurred by health and socila services in delaing with this

    Comment Tags: Health

  • Richard page said on September 20, 2011 at 9:20 am

    I would strengthen it, increase enforcement to ensure compliance – London’s failure to comply with EU air quality limits is a national disgrace

  • Dr. Dick van Steenis MBBS said on September 14, 2011 at 5:47 pm

    Install BAM PM2.5 particulate monitors in primary schools across the UK then obey the PM2.5 directive put into UK law July 2010. Map out health data such as LOWBIRTHWEIGHT BABIES, HEART ATTACK & CANCER deaths as demanded by WHO 1997. Instant dismissal for corrupt lying regulators including Health Protection Agency, DEFRA, Environment Agency, all public health directors, COMEAP & COC. Cancell contract with ENVIROS for misleading DEFRA & regulators and companies. Then penalise emitters of excess PM2.5s such as incinerators, oil refineries, power stations burning biomass etc. Health tax on incinerators of £60 per ton to cover NHS cost of emissions. Subsidy of £10 per ton on plasma gasification- the only safe efficient cheap process to deal with waste. The USEPA cleaned up excess PM2.,5s and saved £855billion to date. Doing this will reduce most health damage to under half current levels & save the NHS/DSS/ education some £50billion pa after a small lag. The PAHs emitted are causing lowing of IQ making jobs difficult for youngsters and raising crime levels. I have 360 references proving these points. If these are not seen to the UK is finished as a quality nation.

  • Paul Beckwith said on September 14, 2011 at 4:10 pm

    Air pollution does not respect borders. All air pollution regulation should be consistent across England, Scotland and Wales. Devolution should be about those matters that only affect a single country – atmospheric pollution is a cross border issue (just ask Sweden about acid rain). The best way to reduce the number of regulations and to increase clarity and consistency is to have a single approach to atmospheric regulation rather than different regulations in England and Scotland and no doubt soon different ones in Wales.

  • Erika said on September 12, 2011 at 4:48 pm

    Streamline by all means but up to the highest standards. With respect to vehicular air pollution UK attempts to improve air quality have been limp and ineffective. Thousands of people live or work in areas where the air pollution is above the save levels (i.e. it damages health). Children live in a smog of particulates, some of which are not included in the regulations but are carcinogenic. When it comes to carbon fuels the focus is always on levels of carbon emissions, and air pollution is ignored. If it was mandatory for buses, taxis and delivery vehicles to run on lpg or other clean fuels, the air pollution levels would drop a lot. As would the noise levels (integrated policy making, aka ‘joined-up thinking’). The polluter should pay, and yes, that cost would trickle down to all of us. As we use buses, taxis, etc and buy the products that the delivery vans are delivering to the shops, we are the polluters. And yes @shawn, there are areas of cities where air pollution levels are so high that people should have air tanks and masks. The ordinary masks you can see cyclists wearing sometimes won’t keep out the fine particulates though. Somewhere in Greater London the local council designated a whole row of houses along a main road as unfit for habitation because of the air pollution levels. Others should follow this excellent example, but won’t due to the shortage of housing.

  • Dave Seward said on September 12, 2011 at 11:46 am

    My point is regarding the Governments encouragement of using biofuels. These fuels are still in their infancy and can produce other pollutants. Also the policy is already affecting poorer peoples in other parts of the world where these crops are grown in place of food crops.

  • shawn said on September 11, 2011 at 9:09 am

    dont improve nothing it will only end up with us paying for it . how will we know if the air got cleaner , If the air was so bad we would be wearing protected masks.

  • Jenny said on September 9, 2011 at 6:14 pm

    Air quality is very important to life, and having a voluntary code would be insufficient to ensure that it is maintained. A law is not red tape as it was introduced in the first place for a reason.

  • F Hulbert said on September 8, 2011 at 3:59 pm

    They should be left as they are, or merged only if it involves no diminution of the regulation. This is a vital area for health and the environment and a voluntary code is just not sufficient to keep us safe.

  • Red Tape Challenger said on September 8, 2011 at 10:29 am

    You raise an interesting point regarding the existing legislation and regulations dealing with air quality. Could you look to be more specific about the particular changes to the difficulies you are alluding to?

  • David Hope said on September 5, 2011 at 11:11 am

    Existing legislation and regulations dealing with air quality should be strengthened. Voluntary codes are ineffectual. Businesses, including aviation, must be held to account for their ‘externalities: the pollution and costs to the environment and public health that they impose on society.

  • G Lowe said on September 4, 2011 at 3:28 pm

    These regulations should not be scrapped because air quality is an essential part of a good environment. Voluntary regulation is not enough. They should not be weakened.

  • Philippa Mitchell said on September 3, 2011 at 7:21 pm

    High air quality is essential for life. Anything that reduces or worsens air quality should not be attempted. If by creating fewer new pieces of legislation that combine and strengthen the existing legislation, then that would be good.
    However, letting businesses treat air quality as a voluntary issue, scrapping them or similar action that reduces the comitment of this country to ensuring that its citizens (and other living things that share the land and water space with us) have good quality air to breathe is short-sighted. It will result in even greater expense to the tax payer through health costs. Businesses will (yet again) get off free by not paying for the pollution they cause.
    All legislation should follow the precautionary principle and polluter pays principle and the cost of polluting activities past on to the consumer – in this way, the consumer will opt for non polluting products.

    Comment Tags: polluter pays

  • Shirley May said on August 20, 2011 at 2:40 pm

    I would introduce measures to lower the number of vehicles driving through towns and cities. In particular, I would pedestrianize the centre of Brighton and Hove from the sea to the station (roughly north-south) and from the Palace to the West Pier (east-west).

  • Graham Belson said on August 4, 2011 at 11:26 am

    The toll at the Dartford Crossing shoul be scrapped. It causes continuous huge traffic jams, delays traveller by hours, and results in emissions significantly increasing.
    The crossing has already paid for itsel, it is now simoply a money-earner for the governemt with complete disregard for the motorsit

    Comment Tags: Dartford Crossing

  • Bill Berry said on July 15, 2011 at 2:32 pm

    The Clean Air 1993 largely re-enacts previous legislation going back to 1956. Until a few years ago, I would have said that it has become redundant, because there were very few (if any) solid fuel appliances left. However, that is changing with more people fitting “biofuel” (wood) stoves. Therefore, the Act is still needed. However, it needs to be brought up to date.

    The idea behind “Smoke Control Areas” was to control the flow of Government grants to convert old open fires to less polluting types of stove, and to concentrate on the worst areas first. Now that the conversions have been largely completed, the idea of Smoke Control Areas has become redundant. We need now to extend to the whole country those provisions that are now specific to Smoke Control Areas. However, Government grants will no longer be necessary.

    In addition, there are differences between the technical standards in the Air Quality Regulations and those used for the Clean Air Act. The CAA 1993 requires that a “Chimney Height Determination” has to be applied for to the Local Authority. This needs to be integrated into the Planning regime. Also, the calculation method used for such a determination is currently in the Memorandum on Chimney Heights 1981, which only looks at SO2, and has a calculation method that is not consistent with either the Air Quality regulations or the Secretary of State’s approved method for calculating chimney heights for industrial process control under the Environmental Permitting Regulations (Technical Guidance Note D1). These inconsistencies need to be ironed out.

    Guidance given to engineers fitting new solid fuel appliances, and the Building Regulations Approved Document on flues needs to be changed. Current guidance is all about preventing down-draught; new structures built to that guidance, and in accordance with Building Regulations, have actually resulted in smoke nuisance to neighbours. This is because the guidance and the Building Regulations allows chimneys that are lower than the neighbour’s bedroom windows, so that smoke blows straight into the bedroom. It is not acceptable that compliance with Building Regulations could still result in nuisance to neighbours. “Cutting Red Tape” certainly means that this conflict between two different sets of legislation needs to be resolved.

  • R k joyner said on June 20, 2011 at 2:32 pm

    I don’t understand why any of these categories under environment are included in this strange exercise that seems to follow from the unsubstatiated hypothesis that regulation = bad.

    Regulation is supposed to be designed to prevent the occurrence of identified undesirable/hazardous consequences of actions by individuals or groups.

    By all means carry out a study relating desired to actual outcomes, a process that should be ongoing in any case.

    As others have written, the ‘Red Tape’ premise is pejorative dogma rather than enlightened politics as we are supposed to believe.

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