5 October 2015

Improving air quality in the city

Reducing nitrogen dioxide levels is a priority for improving air quality in the city and protecting people’s health. High levels of nitrogen dioxide can irritate the lungs and have been linked to a range of respiratory conditions. Certain groups are more at risk to prolonged exposure to nitrogen dioxide, including infants, the elderly and those with conditions such as asthma and bronchitis.

The Environment Transport Sustainability Committee on 13 October will consider whether to approve the 2015 Air Quality Action Plan (2015 AQAP) and recommendations to reduce nitrogen dioxide levels across Brighton & Hove.

The council’s 2015 AQAP includes information about where in the city nitrogen dioxide levels need to be reduced and how this should be achieved. Vehicles are the main pollutants and the source varies depending on geography.

In the city centre in North Street the main emissions are from buses and taxis. Further out in Lewes Road a combination of lorries, vans, buses, taxis and private cars has been shown to contribute to nitrogen dioxide in the area. On the edge of the city in Rottingdean High Street private cars are the main source of emissions. Identifying the type of vehicle and locations of emissions is part of the process for taking action to reduce the amount of nitrogen dioxide in the air.  

Alongside considering the 2015 AQAP, the ETS committee is deciding whether air quality control should be a key consideration when decisions about major projects are being discussed. The AQAP is produced by the council’s environmental protection team which is part of the Public Health department. The recommendations aim to make air quality control, in terms of assessment and review, part of future decision making across the council in a broader sense than at present. 

Cllr Gill Mitchell said: “Nitrogen dioxide levels continue to exceed acceptable standards in some areas of Brighton & Hove. We need to look at how to tackle this issue by making air quality a priority across the council. Decisions about transport, planning and tourism, which could impact on air quality, must be taken with careful consideration of the requirements of the Air Quality Action Plan. We need to work together across our services and with partners in the city to improve air quality and reduce health risks from pollution.”

Local authorities have a legal duty to review and assess air quality. Councils must also produce an action plan for submission to the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs.  The council declared an Air Quality Management Area (AQMA) on 30 August 2013. Measures are already being taken to improve air quality in the AQMA, including successful applications for grants to fund such projects as low emission taxis and buses.  

Find out more:


Read the committee report

The current Air Quality Management Area is a quarter the size of the previous one and the location can be viewed here: