Seven-year trends show positive action is improving air quality in Brighton & Hove

While different factors contribute to yearly fluctuations, a new report shows that long term air quality in Brighton & Hove has improved.

The 2020 Air Quality Status Annual Report shows improvements in the city’s Air Quality Management Areas (AQMAs), with the majority of the city continuing to comply with levels set out by the Government’s Air Quality Strategy for England (AQS).

Brighton & Hove’s Annual report shows:

  • Up to 2020 Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) levels in Brighton & Hove’s AQMAs are steadily falling, more pronounced improvement has been recorded around Queen’s Road, Brighton Railway Station  and next to Eastern Road near the Royal Sussex County Hospital
  • Except for a few days each year, Levels of Particulate Matter (small particles which travel through the air) are low
  • Vehicle emissions continue to be the main source of roadside NO2

Helping to improve air quality

The council is working hard with partners to improve air quality in the city with measures including:

  • Consideration of new options for the Ultralow Emissions Zone
  • Investing in electric vehicle infrastructure, including 200 new on-street charging points and rapid charging points for taxis
  • Securing investment to retrofit the city’s bus fleet alongside the company’s own investment
  • The development of a Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan to encourage sustainable travel across the city
  • Working with schools to encourage sustainable travel behaviour change

How you can help improve air quality

There are lots of ways residents can help to improve the city’s air for everyone including:

  • Give your car time off; walk, cycle or scooter to school, work and leisure
  • Use public transport. The city’s bus fleet is investing in cleaner buses every year and new trains will use less electricity
  • Go electric. We’re installing 200 electric vehicle charging points across the city, making it easier to recharge an electric car or van.
  • Use clean home heating without burning coal or wood in open fireplaces; consider replacing of old boilers for ground or air source heat pumps

Next steps

Brighton & Hove City Council is due to review its AQMAs and then publish an Air Quality Action Plan setting out the measures it intends to put in place in pursuit of the objectives. 

A report on the proposed 2020 AQMA is scheduled for September’s Environment, Transport and Sustainability (ETS) Committee. Public consultation on a renewed 2021 Air Quality Action Plan is anticipated next year.


During the Covid-19 pandemic, we have seen a noticeable increase in walking and cycling, reductions in traffic and more people working from home.

In response, the council has installed a number of temporary measures which include a cycle lane on A270 Old Shoreham Road and widening of footways in parts of The Lanes and Old Town.

We have also temporarily closed Madeira Drive to motor vehicles and increased the number of BTN BikeShare hubs to support cycle use in the city.

An Urgent Response Transport Action Plan has also been agreed which will see the introduction of further sustainable transport changes including a temporary cycle lane on the A259 from the Palace Pier to the city’s west boundary.

Carbon Neutral 2030

We declared a climate emergency in 2018 and are committed to being a carbon neutral city in 2030. 

Reducing emissions from vehicles and having more people travelling sustainably will be a key part of achieving this goal and improving the city’s air quality.

The first meeting of a city Climate Assembly is due to take place in the coming months with views from that helping to shape our Local Transport Plan, which will also be seeking the views of residents, businesses and other key stakeholders.


Nitrogen dioxide (NO2) is the biggest contributor to poor air quality in the city and largely comes from road transport emissions.

For the last year Brighton & Hove City Council is compliant with all pollutants listed in the AQS, with the exception of nitrogen dioxide.

The city first declared an Air Quality Management Area (AQMA) for NO2 in 2004. This included Preston Circus, the Vogue Gyratory and London Road through Valley Gardens to the Pavilion.

The two existing AQMAs for NO2 were declared in 2013 and include areas within central and western parts of the city reaching as far as Portslade. The other AQMA includes Rottingdean High Street.

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