Air Quality

Air Quality

Under the provisions of the 1995 Environmental Act, all local authorities in England and Wales are required to assess air quality against a set of national targets for seven key pollutants.

•    PM10 Particulates
•    Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2)
•    Benzene
•    Sulphur Dioxide (SO2)
•    1,3 Butadiene
•    Carbon monoxide (CO)
•    Lead

Whilst most parts of Tamworth Borough have been found to enjoy very good air quality, it has been found that at some locations, exclusively next to very busy roads, particularly at junctions and where there are inclines on the highway and buildings close to the kerb, levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) may exceed the national objective (annual mean objective of 40 micrograms per cubic metre of air (40µg/m3)). Some of these locations are where members of the public might be regularly exposed to the poor air quality.

The Environmental Protection service of Tamworth Borough Council has identified these specific locations and undertakes routine monitoring for concentrations of nitrogen dioxide at these locations. Diffusion tubes, which are small and inconspicuous devices for taking an air sample over a period of time are located on road signs, lamp posts and other suitable street furniture in residential, commercial and High Street locations.

A disadvantage of this type of monitoring is that it can only give information at the point of location, i.e. at that lamp post, drainpipe or road sign. To overcome this difficulty where levels of NO2 appear to be near to or above the 40µg/m3 objective several diffusion tubes are often grouped in the area to enable an average level to be calculated.

Nitrogen dioxide
Nitrogen dioxide is mainly derived from road transport emissions and other combustion processes such as commercial and domestic heating and the electricity supply industry.
It can irritate the lungs and lower resistance to respiratory infections such as influenza.
Continued or frequent exposure to concentrations that are typically much higher than those normally found in the ambient air may cause increased incidence of acute respiratory illness in children.

Monitoring Sites
There are 14 “passive diffusion” tubes throughout the city recording levels of nitrogen dioxide.  Although less accurate than continuously analysing monitors they are cheaper to use and provide a wide coverage of measurements across the town in different types of settings.

The monitoring sites are: 

  • Upper Gungate
  • Claremont Road
  • Brookside Way
  • Lakeland Drive
  • High Broom Court
  • Wessenden
  • Dosthill Road (Two Gates)
  • Watling Street (Two Gates)
  • Tamworth Road (Two Gates)
  • Watling Street (Two Gates)
  • Glascote Road
  • Perrycrofts Crescent
  • Upper Gungate
  • Tamworth Road, Amington

Air Quality Data (Defra)

Tamworth Borough Council diffusion tube data is available to the public via the following government website link:
http://laqm.defra.gov.uk/diffusion-tubes/local-authority/tamworth-borough-council.html

Tamworth Borough Council also produces annual reports to Defra.

Air Quality Management Areas

The Environment Act 1995 Act also requires that Local Authorities “Review and Assess” air quality in their areas following a prescribed timetable. The Review and Assessment process is intended to locate and spatially define areas where the AQS objectives are not being met. In such instances the Local Authority is required to declare an Air Quality Management Area (AQMA), carry out a Further Assessment of Air Quality, and develop an Air Quality Action Plan (AQAP) which should include measures to improve air quality so that the objectives may be achieved in the future.

One Air Quality Management Areas (AQMAs) came into force for the Two Gates Junction in May 2014.

Smoke Control Area

The Clean Air Act 1993, allowed Councils to establish Smoke Control Areas to improve air quality. 

Within a Smoke Control Area it is an offence to cause the emission of smoke or burn any "unauthorised" fuel. This applies to residential properties, as well as commercial/industrial operations. 

Any fuel being used in a Smoke Control Area must be specifically authorised for use or can be any of the following ‘smokeless’ fuels, 

  • anthracite
  • semi-anthracite
  • gas
  • low volatile steam coal

unless you’re using an exempt appliance (capable of burning fuels without emitting smoke):

List of Authorised fuels: http://smokecontrol.defra.gov.uk/fuels.php 

Exempt appliances: http://smokecontrol.defra.gov.uk/fuels.php

Oil and kindling
You can use oil or other liquid fuels in specially designed or adapted fireplaces. 
Kindling can be used to start your fire.

Exempt appliances that can burn unauthorised fuels
Unauthorised fuels, such as wood, can be burned in exempt appliances such as some boilers, cookers and stoves.    

You must only use the types of fuel that the manufacturer says can be used in the appliance.

UK Smoke Control Areas: www.uksmokecontrolareas.co.uk/index.php 

Outdoor ovens, burners and barbecues
You can use outdoor barbecues, chimineas, fireplaces or pizza ovens.

Any appliances that release smoke through a chimney of a building - eg a summerhouse - can only burn authorised fuel or must be exempt.

Bonfires and Barbeques 

There are no laws against having a bonfire even in a smoke control area, but there are laws for the nuisance they can cause.

Just because you can see a garden bonfire or smell smoke does not make it a nuisance - to be a nuisance it must be unreasonably affecting your use or enjoyment of your property. Issues that can play a part in deciding whether it is a nuisance include the size of the fire, the materials being burnt, the weather and the smell. 

The Council can take action where smoke from bonfires is causing a statutory nuisance. We can issue an ‘abatement notice’ if a neighbour’s bonfire is causing a nuisance. 
To prove that a bonfire is a statutory nuisance it must be proven beyond reasonable doubt, then the person responsible may be prosecuted in a Magistrates' Court and fined up to £5,000.

Guidelines for garden bonfires

If you wish to have a garden bonfire you are advised to follow the guidance below:

  • Only burn dry garden material - wet material produces more smoke and steam 
  • Never burn domestic rubbish, furniture, painted wood, tyres or plastics 
  • Never add a fuel such as diesel, oil or petrol 
  • Make sure having a bonfire will not affect neighbours (check they have windows closed and do not have any washing out to dry) 
  • Never have bonfires on damp days or when there is little or no wind as smoke will linger in the air for long periods of time 
  • Never have bonfires at weekends or on bank holidays when people are more likely to be enjoying their gardens - be considerate! 
  • Do not allow bonfire smoke to blow over a road - this is an offence under the Highways Act 1980. 
  • If your neighbours do complain, rake off any unburnt material if safe to do so and smother the fire with soil or sand. Dousing with water can make the problem worse due to the amount of steam that is produced 
  • Avoid burning when air pollution in your area is high or very high. This information is included in weather forecasts or on the UK Air Quality Archive website.
  • There is no law restricting times when you can have a domestic garden bonfire, but it is important to think about your neighbours and other local residents. 

Barbeques

Barbeques can also cause a smoke problem. Again we would ask users of barbecues to be considerate. If you are having a barbeque tell your neighbours, don't ignite it when they have got washing out, and if its windy check that the smoke won't blow straight into neighbouring properties.

Locate the barbeque as far away from the buildings / neighbouring properties as possible and ensure that any charcoal is dry and suitable before lighting. Do not leave the barbecue unattended.

An occasional barbeque is unlikely to cause a statutory nuisance but if you are being affected by frequent or particularly smoky  barbeques that are causing you concern then recording the times these take place may help.

If your neighbour is lighting barbecues which cause you a problem, you can approach them and politely tell them how the barbecue is affecting you. They may be unaware of the effect it is having on you.

If the problem continues after discussing the matter with your neighbour, you can report it to us.

Odours/Smells

An odour can be defined as a smell that is detectable. Complaints of odour are investigated under the Environmental Protection Act 1990.
The types of odour problems that we are able to deal with are restricted to the following:

  • fumes from boilers (excluding odourless water vapour from condensing boilers)
  • smoke from bonfires or chimneys
  • fumes or gases from commercial premises
  • accumulations of waste (e.g. dog faeces, food items, etc.)
  • odour arising from the manner in which animals are kept
  • filthy premises and odour from industrial, trade or business premises

We cannot take action against odour complaints relating to domestic premises, unless it is associated with an accumulation of waste in or at the residential property, where it may be possible to deal with the waste.

The presence of an odour in itself does not mean it amounts to a Statutory Nuisance. In addition, there is no set level where an odour becomes a nuisance. Judgement of whether or not an odour constitutes a statutory nuisance can take time, especially if the occurrence of the odour is unpredictable and only apparent for short periods of time.
 
Odour is subjective. What is offensive to one person may be acceptable to another. Factors that are examined when considering the potential existence of a statutory nuisance are:
•    type of odour
•    severity
•    wind strength and direction
•    duration of odour
•    time of day
•    how often it occurs.

Environmental Health staff use their experience and judgement to decide if the odour might be a nuisance to the average person and whether a statutory nuisance exists. In addition, the source needs to be determined clearly as the cause of the odour.

In practice, the odour would need to be a persistent problem that interferes substantially with a person's wellbeing, comfort or the enjoyment of their property
If the Council is satisfied that someone is causing a nuisance, a legal notice can be served on the person responsible requiring them to stop causing the nuisance. 

Failure to comply with the notice is an offence for which they can be prosecuted