Air quality management areas in Cheltenham

An air quality management area (AQMA) is effectively an air quality action zone where improvements in air quality must be implemented. The boundary of the AQMA includes the properties affected by the elevated pollution levels. Once an AQMA has been declared, monitoring continues and we must prepare an air quality action plan.

In December 2008, an AQMA was declared in Cheltenham at the lower end of Bath Road and High Street. This was because nitrogen dioxide levels had exceeded national air quality limits.

However since 2009, further air monitoring has identified several other locations in Cheltenham where nitrogen dioxide limits are being exceeded.  Therefore a new AQMA has been declared to cover the whole of Cheltenham Borough and an Action Plan will be developed to address the problem areas.

Air quality action plan

When an AQMA has been declared by a local authority, the authority must then commence the preparation of an air quality action plan. An action plan is a detailed document which must state how the authority intends to reduce the pollution levels that have been exceeded, in order to meet the national air quality standards.

Developing an action plan will involve setting up a 'steering group' of people to identify measures that could be implemented to bring down pollution levels. Members of the group will usually include representatives from key departments within the council, such as environmental health and planning, together with officers from Gloucestershire County Council transport department and local councillors.

The action plan is likely to be a detailed technical document which sets out existing and proposed actions to improve air quality. These action points may include the implementation of measures such as improved transport planning, pollution control technology and healthy living initiatives.

The council has approved an air quality action plan and implementation of some of the measures detailed in the document has now commenced.