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Air Pollution: Torbay

Volume 492: debated on Tuesday 12 May 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what his most recent assessment is of air quality in the Torbay local authority area; and what steps the Government are taking to improve air quality in the area. (272529)

Local authorities have a duty under Part IV of the Environment Act 1995 to review and assess the current, and likely future, air quality in their areas, and to submit reports on local air quality to DEFRA.

Where local authorities consider that one or more nationally prescribed air quality objectives is unlikely to be met by the relevant deadline, they must declare an air quality management area (AQMA) covering the area affected. These local authorities must then take action, along with other agencies and organisations, to work towards meeting the air quality objectives. Torbay council declared AQMAs in respect of nitrogen dioxide objectives in April 2005 and May 2006. The council has produced an action plan setting out the measures it is implementing in order to improve air quality in the area. Since local road transport is the primary cause of local air pollution in these AQMAs, Torbay council has integrated its air quality action plan into the Torbay Local Transport Plan 2006-2011, a copy of which is available at:

DEFRA has assessed, and is satisfied with Torbay council’s 2008 progress report, and we await the council’s air quality report for 2009.

The Government provide guidance and practical support to assist local authorities with their duties on review and assessment of air quality, and to ensure consistency and best practice. Revised and updated guidance was published in February on the DEFRA website at:

The Government also fund several helplines which local authorities can contact for practical and technical advice on monitoring, modelling, emission inventories and air quality action plan measures. All local authorities are invited each year to bid for air quality grant aid, and applications are considered and awards made towards the cost of air quality projects in local areas.