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Local Government Powers

What can your local council do to reduce air pollution in your community?

Local Air Quality Management

The Environment Act 1995 requires local authorities to monitor air pollution against national targets and to take action where it is found that these targets are unlikely to be met. Northern Ireland has equivalent regulations for local air quality management known as the Environment (Northern Ireland) Order 2002.

Areas that exceed the national pollutant levels are called Air Quality Management Areas (AQMAs). The UK National Air Quality Archive has more information about AQMAs and what your local authority is doing to manage air quality.

More Local Government Powers

Local authorities can:

  • Carry out roadside vehicle emissions checks in AQMAs and issue fixed fines to drivers whose vehicles do not comply with emissions limits.
  • Make Traffic Regulation Orders (TROs) to regulate traffic. For example, a local authority can impose a TRO to restrict the amount and type of traffic in busy shopping areas. This is an effective way of reducing traffic-related air pollution.
  • The Clean Air Act 1993 gives local authorities the powers to control and deal with dark smoke and harmful fumes from chimneys and industrial and trade premises. These powers include granting approval for the installation of new furnaces and the approval of chimney heights. They can set up smoke control areas within which chimney smoke is not allowed. They can also deal with offences relating to the use or purchase of unauthorised fuel other than for use in exempt fireplaces and premises.
  • Industrial Air Pollution: Local authorities regulate small industries which cause air pollution. Before a small industry can operate, it must obtain an environmental permit from the local authority, which sets out air quality standards under the Industrial Emissions Directive. The Industrial Emissions Directive replaced the controls under the Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control (IPPC) Directive 2008/1/EC. The permitting system operates in England and Wales through the Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2010.


The Clean Air Act 1993

The Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2010

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