Air quality

Toxic air is one of the biggest threats to our health. Air pollution damages healthy lungs and makes problems worse for people living with a lung condition.

Air pollution is linked to up to 36,000 deaths in England every year and costs society more than £20 billion. Two of the most dangerous pollutants are nitrogen dioxide (NO2) from vehicles and particulate matter (PM2.5) from vehicles, wood burning, industry and farming. 

NO2 air pollution

What this page tells you

This page gives evidence and information on NOlevels across England and in local areas. It checks progress against Taskforce recommendations to:

Introduce category D Clean Air Zones in the most polluted towns and cities across England

This will be measured through the following measures of success:

  • All 61 local authorities identified by government and Greater London must have roadside nitrogen dioxide levels which are within legal limits
  • All 61 local authorities identified by government and Greater London must have an effective clean air plan in place or to be identified as not needing to take further action

What is NO2?

Different emitters of NO2: Vehicles, industry, power generation and domestic heating

Nitrogen dioxide is a gas and is a major component of urban air pollution.

Man-made sources of nitrogen dioxide include vehicles, power stations and heating. Diesel vehicles are major contributors in urban areas. Roadside levels are highest where traffic is busiest.

High levels of NO2 can irritate and inflame the lining of your airways, causing a flare-up of asthma or COPD and symptoms such as coughing and difficulty breathing.

Children and older people are also more affected and more likely to develop a respiratory infection, or react to an allergen (any substance that triggers an allergic reaction, such as pollen).

What's the story so far?

The UK government has failed to meet emissions targets

The government has failed time and time again

The UK Government has breached legal limits of NO2 since 2010.

In 2015, the Government was taken to court and ordered to publish a national plan to reach legal levels.

In July 2017 and February 2018, courts said Government plans were inefficient and should be revised.

At each stage of this process, the UK Government told local authorities to come up with plans to bring NO2 within legal limits, and implement them. We can divide the local authorities into three waves:


First wave

Includes 6 Local Authorities

  • Birmingham
  • Derby
  • London
  • Leeds
  • Nottingham
  • Southampton

Issue Date: December 2015

Deadline: Implement a clean air zone (CAZ) by 2020

Status: 40% missed the deadline

Out of the six "first wave" local authorities, Derby and Southampton failed to meet their deadline to submit their final plans. They have failed to bring forward charging clean air zones that were recommended by the government. Leeds and Birmingham have proposed the creating charging clean air zones, but they've been delayed until Summer 2020 because of a lack of central government infrastructure.

About the first wave

In December 2015 the UK Government published its first plan. This plan said that five "first wave" local authorities in England would be required to implement Clean Air Zones (CAZs) by 2020. Greater London is categorised differently and isn't technically a "first wave" local authority, but for this research, we have included it in this category.

Second wave

Includes 23 Local Authorities

  • Basildon
  • Bath & North East
  • Bolton
  • Bristol
  • Bury
  • Coventry
  • Fareham
  • Gateshead
  • Guildford
  • Manchester
  • Middlesborough
  • New Forest
  • Newcastle
  • North Tyneside
  • Rochford
  • Rotherham
  • Rushmoor
  • Salford
  • Sheffield
  • Stockport
  • Surrey
  • Tameside
  • Trafford

Issue Date: July 2017

Deadline: Publish feasibility study by December 2018

Status: 78% missed the deadline

Of the "second wave" local authorities 78% missed the December 2018 deadline, and many of them are still working on their plans. There is a concern that in the vast majority of cases, the legal tests recommended by the courts are not being properly applied, so this may lead to ineffective and potentially unlawful plans.

About the second wave

The government's first air quality plan was found to be insufficient in court, so in July 2017 they were forced to publish a revised plan. This stated that 23 ""second wave" local authorities had to carry out feasibility studies to work out how to get to NO2 legal limits in the shortest time possible.

Third wave

Includes 33 Local Authorities

  • Ashfield
  • Basingstoke & Deane
  • Blaby
  • Bolsover
  • Bournemouth
  • Bradford
  • Broxbourne
  • Burnley
  • Calderdale
  • Cheltenham
  • Dudley
  • Kirklees
  • Leicester
  • Liverpool
  • Newcastle-under-Lyme
  • Oldham
  • Oxford
  • Peterborough
  • Plymouth
  • Poole
  • Portsmouth
  • Reading
  • Sandwell
  • Sefton
  • Solihull
  • South Gloucestershire
  • South Tyneside
  • Southend
  • Stoke-on-Trent
  • Sunderland
  • Wakefield
  • Walsall
  • Woverhampton

Issue Date: Feb 2018

Deadline: Submit initial plans by 31 January 2019, and final plans by 31 October 2019

Status: Final plans due soon

We are still waiting for detail on the progress of the third wave local authorities. They had until the end of October 2019 to submit their plans so new information should be available soon.

About the third wave

In February 2018, the government's 2017 plan was also found to be unlawful. As a result, a "supplement plan" was published in October 2018 and a further 33 "third wave" local authorities were directed to carry out feasibility studies on how to reach legal limits as quickly as possible. From these studies not all local authorities have to take forward action - you can read more details here. The Supplement plan identified eight additional local authorities that needed to publish plans by October 2019 and since then a further four local authorities have also been identified as needing to do the same.

90% of local authorities are still breaching legal limits

56 out of the 62 local areas we looked at still have roads that exceed annual legal limits for NO2. This is based on 'maximum annual mean roadside levels' – one of the ways to measure NO2 levels within local areas. It is the yearly average NO2 level for the worst polluted road in an area and shows how severe the pollution problem is.

Local authorities are still breaching legal limits

People living, working or going to school in these local areas could be exposed to dangerous levels of NO2, across the year. Research from 2017 showed that over 2,000 nurseries, schools, further education centres and after school clubs in England and Wales were within 150 metres of a road with levels of nitrogen dioxide that broke the law.

Delays and disagreements

Local clean air plans have been delayed and disputed over the last four years. Local authorities haven’t been given a clear framework for how to achieve legal limits. Many feel they lack local political support, resources and local expertise to inform their plans.

Progress has been hampered due to no clear framework for local authorities

Less than half of local areas have had their clean air plans signed off by central government 

Less than half of local clean air plans for first and second wave local authorities have been signed off by central government, according to publicly available information as of October 2019. This means action to tackle the problem still hasn’t been agreed or put in place in many areas.  

 

A lack of central funding

Clean air zones that charge for vehicles including private cars to enter polluted areas are the most effective and quickest way to reach legal limits. But these schemes can be difficult to enforce, and there’s limited financial support from central government to pay for scrappage schemes to help people switch to cleaner vehicle

As a result, the plans for clean air zones vary massively. Some zones rely on voluntary measures, such as Southampton. Others, such as London and Birmingham, have been much more ambitious and charge for all vehicles.

There is lack of government funding to pay for scrappage schemes making it harder to enforce clean air zones

Explore your area

The map below displays the NO2 levels and clean air plans for the different areas under court action, with summary and research findings further down this page. 

If you live in an area with high NO2 air pollution you should take extra care to protect yourself. If you have a lung condition this can be even more important. Find out here via our website.

NO2 and Clean Air Plans across the country

Full nameShort NameLatLongEd-xEd-yWaveCourt Issue DateN02 - Max Annual Roadside MeanTotal no. of monitored locationsRankNo Further Action FlagClean Air Plan Proposed StatusDEFRA Sign Off StatusClean Air Plan Underway StatusClean Air Plan Working StatusPlan linkText blockNotes blockUpdatedYearBreach Flag
Ashfield District CouncilAshfield53.0929-1.2697763.90131051.0723Feb-1840.700319541N/ANoN/AN/ARecent data shows that no further action is needed to meet legal NO2 levelsOct-1920181
Basildon District CouncilBasildon51.57610.4887917.76131259.7072Jul-1753.61482370YesNoNoN/ABasildon Council has proposed traffic managment systems to reduce air pollution but not a clean air zone. DEFRA have asked them to consider and submit a new business case for further action, and strongly recommended a charging clean air zone.Oct-1920181
Basingstoke and Deane Borough CouncilBasingstoke and Deane51.2992-1.1783771.89881297.7953Feb-1839.2550517570N/An/aN/AN/ARecent data shows that traffic management will bring NO2 to legal levels by the end of 2019 so no further action is required.Oct-1920180
Bath & North East Somerset CouncilBath & North East Somerset51.325-2.4766658.29751294.2462Jul-1731.3109241620YesNoNoN/Abathnes.gov.uk/bath-breathes-2021-overviewCurrent proposals are for a class B clean air zone, which would charge the most polluting lorries, buses and coaches for entering the town centre. However, DEFRA have previously recommended a class D clean air zone. Final plans are due to be considered by the government in early 2020.Oct-1920180
Birmingham City CouncilBirmingham52.4862-1.8904709.591134.5231Dec-1558.2693714720YesYesNoN/Ahttps://www.birmingham.gov.uk/info/20076/pollution/1763/a_clean_air_zone_for_birminghamA class D charging clean air zone has been proposed but has been delayed until July 2020 due to lack of central government admin support. The CAZ will include charging for private cars and covers much of the city centre. The council will recive £38 million from DEFRA to support businesses and individuals through the changes and they are lobbying the government for diesel scrappage scheme.Oct-1920181
Blaby District CouncilBlaby52.5708-1.1656773.011122.8863Feb-1842.0879116470N/An/aN/AN/ARecent data shows that no further action is needed to meet legal NO2 levelsOct-1920181
Bolsover District CouncilBolsover53.231-1.2897762.15131032.0763Feb-1845.509364350N/ANoN/AN/ABolsover Council are expected to publish their clean air plan in early 2020.Oct-1920181
Bolton Metropolitan Borough CouncilBolton53.5769-2.4282662.5325984.49742Jul-1748.0770773180YesNoN/AN/Ahttps://cleanairgm.com/clean-air-planThe Greater Manchester Clean Air Plan includes a class C clean air zone across all ten of the city region’s boroughs, starting from 2021. This would include vans, lorries and buses but not private cars. There is ongoing discussion between the Greater Manchester Combined Authority and DEFRA on the timings for their CAZ and the amount of funding they need to implement it. In the mean time, they have invested in walking and cycling infrastructure and are involving the local health services in promoting information about air pollution.Oct-1920181
Bournemouth Borough CouncilBournemouth50.7192-1.8808710.431377.5743Feb-1845.5752324341N/ANoN/AN/ARecent data shows that no further action is needed to meet legal NO2 levelsOct-1920181
Bradford City CouncilBradford53.796-1.7594721.0525954.36023Feb-1843.0790291430N/ANoN/AN/ABradford City Council are expected to publish a clean air plan in early 2020Oct-1920181
Bristol City CouncilBristol51.4545-2.5879648.55881276.4342Jul-1746.59597108290YesNoN/AN/ABristol Council have approved a plan to ban diesel cars altogether from a small area of the city centre, and introduce a wider class C Clean Air Zone which charges vans, lorries and buses but not private cars to enter. The plans have not yet been approved by DEFRA.Oct-1920181
Broxbourne Borough CouncilBroxbourne51.7435-0.0212873.1451236.6823Feb-1838.9508710580N/ANoN/AN/AHertfordshire County Council will be publishing a buisness case with proposals for reducing air pollution in spring 2020.Oct-1920180
Burnley Borough CouncilBurnley53.7893-2.2405678.9563955.28183Feb-1838.575120590N/ANoN/AN/ARecent data shows that no further action is needed to meet legal NO2 levelsOct-1920180
Bury Metropolitan Borough CouncilBury53.5933-2.2966674.0475982.24162Jul-1740.7934943530YesNoN/AN/Ahttps://cleanairgm.com/clean-air-planThe Greater Manchester Clean Air Plan includes a class C clean air zone across all ten of the city region’s boroughs, starting from 2021. This would include vans, lorries and buses but not private cars. There is ongoing discussion between the Greater Manchester Combined Authority and DEFRA on the timings for their CAZ and the amount of funding they need to implement it. In the mean time, they have invested in walking and cycling infrastructure and are involving the local health services in promoting information about air pollution.Oct-1920181
Calderdale Metropolitan Borough CouncilCalderdale53.7248-1.8658711.7425964.15383Feb-1843.2227158420N/An/aN/AN/ARecent data shows that no further action is needed to meet legal NO2 levelsOct-1920181
Cheltenham Borough CouncilCheltenham51.8994-2.0783693.14881215.2383Feb-1840.4430536561N/An/aN/AN/ARecent data shows that no further action is needed to meet legal NO2 levelsOct-1920181
Coventry City CouncilCoventry52.4068-1.5197742.02631145.4452Jul-1747.6970343200NoNoN/AN/Ahttps://cleanairgm.com/clean-air-planThe Greater Manchester Clean Air Plan includes a class C clean air zone across all ten of the city region’s boroughs, starting from 2021. This would include vans, lorries and buses but not private cars. There is ongoing discussion between the Greater Manchester Combined Authority and DEFRA on the timings for their CAZ and the amount of funding they need to implement it. In the mean time, they have invested in walking and cycling infrastructure and are involving the local health services in promoting information about air pollution.Oct-1920181
Derby City CouncilDerby52.9225-1.4746745.97251074.511Dec-1545.6335858330YesNoNoN/Ahttps://www.gov.uk/government/news/government-approves-nottinghams-air-quality-planA charging CAZ was proposed by DEFRA but rejected by the local authority. Instead, Derby City Council submitted their initial proposal to government which sets out a case for traffic management measures that reduce roadside NO2 emissions rather than a charging Clean Air Zone. They are expected to bring forward further plans to reduce pollution levels soon.Oct-1920181
Dudley Metropolitan Borough CouncilDudley52.5123-2.0811692.90381130.9333Feb-1842.4852578450N/An/aN/AN/ARecent data shows that traffic management will bring NO2 to legal levels by the end of 2021 so no further action is required.Oct-1920181
Fareham Borough CouncilFareham50.8548-1.1866771.17251358.9222Jul-1745.7430916320YesYesNoN/AFareham Council has not proposed a clean air zone. They have recieved funding from DEFRA for traffic management measures, encouragement of electric vehicles and support for walking and cycling.Oct-1920181
Gateshead Metropolitan Borough CouncilGateshead54.9527-1.60347208052Jul-1754.490984250NoNoN/AN/ANewcastle, Gateshead and North Tyneside councils have put together joint plans which would see a class C Clean Air Zone which charges vans, lorries and buses but not provate cars implemented in parts of the city. The three councils consulted on this approach in autumn 2019.Oct-1920181
Greater London AuthorityLondon51.5074-0.1278863.81751269.1571Dec-1589.11388191210YesYesYesYeshttps://tfl.gov.uk/modes/driving/ultra-low-emission-zoneThe Ultra Low Emision Zone (ULEZ) was launched in April 2019 and has alreasdy seen a reduction of a third in the most polluting vehicles driving in the city centre.Oct-1920181
Guildford Borough CouncilGuildford51.2362-0.5704825.091306.4612Jul-1748.473736150YesYesNoN/Ahttps://www.a331airquality.co.uk/Surrey Heath Borough Council, Guildford Borough Council and Rushmoor Borough Council have been working together to reduce NO2 levels on roads across their areas. They have proposed speed restrictions until legal limits have beena chieved, but intend to reverse this approach once they are complying with the law.Oct-1920181
Kirklees Metropolitan CouncilKirklees53.5933-1.801717.4125982.24163Feb-1845.364493380N/ANoN/AN/AKirlees Council consulted on a 5-year Air Quality Action Plan in July 2019, with proposals to reduce pollution through traffic management and support for walkinga nd cycling. A final plan is expected to be published soon.Oct-1920181
Leeds City CouncilLeeds53.8008-1.5491739.4538953.71Dec-1552.7595216590YesYesNoN/Ahttps://cleanairleeds.co.uk/Leeds City Council have proposed a class B clean air zone which was due to be launched in January 2020, but has now been delayed until July 2020 due to lack of central government admin support. Under Leeds' proposals, the scheme will aim to tackle air pollution by charging high-emission HGVs and buses £50 a day to drive in the city, while high-emission taxis and private hire vehicles would pay £50 a week. Leeds Council are offering loans and financial support to taxi and private hire drivers and will distribute £23 million of funding to help owners, leaseholders and operators of affected vehicles with the costs of switching to cleaner models.Oct-1920181
Leicester City CouncilLeicester52.6369-1.1398775.26751113.7943Feb-1842.7279662440YesNoNoN/ALeicester Council have proposed a class B clean air zone which would include lorries and buses but not vans or private cars. They will submit further details to DEFRA for sign off in early 2020.Oct-1920181
Liverpool City CouncilLiverpool53.4084-2.9916613.2351007.6753Feb-1848.29176165170N/ANoN/AN/ALiverpool City Council will publish a clean air plan in early 2020. They have already taken action to remove diesel vehicles from the coucil fleet.Oct-1920181
Manchester City CouncilManchester53.4808-2.2426678.7725997.7162Jul-1746.82766146280YesNoN/AN/Ahttps://cleanairgm.com/clean-air-planThe Greater Manchester Clean Air Plan includes a class C clean air zone across all ten of the city region’s boroughs, starting from 2021. This would include vans, lorries and buses but not private cars. There is ongoing discussion between the Greater Manchester Combined Authority and DEFRA on the timings for their CAZ and the amount of funding they need to implement it. In the mean time, they have invested in walking and cycling infrastructure and are involving the local health services in promoting information about air pollution.Oct-1920181
Middlesbrough Borough CouncilMiddlesbrough54.5742-1.235752847.31882Jul-1754.582933441N/AN/AN/AN/ALocal data found that NO2 legal limits are not being breached. DEFRA have agreed and said no work is required. The Council is now working with partners across both Middlesbrough and Redcar & Cleveland to develop a Clean Air Strategy for the South Tees area, but it has not yet been published.Oct-1920181
New Forest District CouncilNew Forest50.8759-1.6328732.131356.022Jul-1750.2234515110YesYesYesN/ANew Forest District Council believe no additional action is needed as they will benefit from neighbouring Southampton City Council's clean air plans to achieve legal levels of pollution.Oct-1920181
Newcastle City CouncilNewcastle54.9783-1.6178718791.73482Jul-1747.6487568220NoNoN/AN/ANewcastle, Gateshead and North Tyneside councils have put together joint plans which would see a class C Clean Air Zone which charges vans, lorries and buses but not provate cars implemented in parts of the city. The three councils consulted on this approach in autumn 2019.Oct-1920181
Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough CouncilNewcastle-under-Lyme53.0132-2.2273680.11131062.0343Feb-1847.5971930230N/ANoN/AN/ANewcastle under Lyme council are currently developing a clean air plan which is expected to encourage alternatives to driving like public transport, walking and cycling.Oct-1920181
North Tyneside CouncilNorth Tyneside55.0182-1.4858730786.24662Jul-1745.3690974370NoNoN/AN/ANewcastle, Gateshead and North Tyneside councils have put together joint plans which would see a class C Clean Air Zone which charges vans, lorries and buses but not provate cars implemented in parts of the city. The three councils consulted on this approach in autumn 2019.Oct-1920181
Nottingham City CouncilNottingham52.9548-1.1581773.66631070.0671Dec-1545.8840898310YesYesYesN/ANottingham's plans have been signed off by DEFRA, but don't include a clean air zone. The council’s plan centres on improving the performance of the city’s bus fleet and addressing emissions from older, more polluting taxis. The council has also received funding to introduce cleaner vehicles across its own fleet, including in waste collection. New greener buses have come into service.Oct-1920181
Oldham Metropolitan Borough CouncilOldham53.5409-2.1114690.2525989.44923Feb-1844.8310859400N/ANoN/AN/ARecent data shows that no further action is needed to meet legal NO2 levelsOct-1920181
Oxford City CouncilOxford51.752-1.2577764.95131235.5123Feb-1838.3539319600YesNoNoN/AOxford have a zero emissions zone planned for 2020. Oxford City Council is planning to ban all diesel and petrol vehicles from parking and unloading in a section of Oxford City Centre during certain hours, and by 2035 the city plans to ban all petrol and diesel vehicles from entering the city centre.Oct-1920180
Peterborough CouncilPeterborough52.5695-0.2405853.95631123.0653Feb-1834.4167725610N/AN/aN/AN/ANo further action required - the road that was found to have illegal NO2 levels is not open to the public.Oct-1920180
Plymouth City CouncilPlymouth50.3755-4.1427512.51381424.853Feb-1841.7814130491N/ANoN/AN/ARecent data shows that no further action is needed to meet legal NO2 levelsOct-1920181
Poole Borough CouncilPoole50.715-1.9872701.121378.1523Feb-1842.3806540460N/ANoN/AN/ARecent data shows that no further action is needed to meet legal NO2 levelsOct-1920181
Portsmouth City CouncilPortsmouth50.8198-1.088779.81363.7373Feb-1847.131652250N/ANoN/AN/APortsmouth City Council are expected to publish a clean air plan in early 2020Oct-1920181
Reading Borough CouncilReading51.4543-0.9781789.41631276.4613Feb-1846.0950343300N/AN/aN/AN/ARecent data shows that no further action is requiredOct-1920181
Rochford District CouncilRochford51.58210.7065936.81881258.8822Jul-1747.587767240YesNoNoN/ARochford Council have demonstrated that the roads which had illegal levels of NO2 have since reached complaince, so they do not need to take further action. They have been awarded funding from DEFRA for electric vehicle charging points and cycle lanes.Oct-1920181
Rotherham Metropolitan Borough CouncilRotherham53.4326-1.3635755.69381004.3462Jul-1753.18095580NoNoN/AN/ARotherham Council published their clean air plans in 2019, but have not proposed a Clean Air Zone, instead focussing on traffic management around specific roads. DEFRA have not yet approved the plan.Oct-1920181
Rushmoor Borough CouncilRushmoor51.2712-0.7618808.34251301.6462Jul-1750.9054615100YesYesNoN/Ahttps://www.a331airquality.co.uk/Surrey Heath Borough Council, Guildford Borough Council and Rushmoor Borough Council have been working together to reduce NO2 levels on roads across their areas. They have proposed speed restrictions until legal limits have beena chieved, but intend to reverse this approach once they are complying with the law.Oct-1920181
Salford Metropolitan Borough CouncilSalford53.4875-2.2901674.6163996.79442Jul-1745.3243891390YesNoN/AN/Ahttps://cleanairgm.com/clean-air-planThe Greater Manchester Clean Air Plan includes a class C clean air zone across all ten of the city region’s boroughs, starting from 2021. This would include vans, lorries and buses but not private cars. There is ongoing discussion between the Greater Manchester Combined Authority and DEFRA on the timings for their CAZ and the amount of funding they need to implement it. In the mean time, they have invested in walking and cycling infrastructure and are involving the local health services in promoting information about air pollution.Oct-1920181
Sandwell Metropolitan Borough CouncilSandwell52.5362-2.0108699.0551127.6463Feb-1846.8897771270N/ANoN/AN/ASandwell Council are expected to publish a clean air plan in early 2020Oct-1920181
Sefton Metropolitan Borough CouncilSefton53.5035-3.0351609.4288994.59363Feb-1844.4599968410N/ANoN/AN/ASefton Council are expected to publish a clean air plan in early 2020Oct-1920181
Sheffield City CouncilSheffield53.3811-1.4701746.36631011.432Jul-1747.6820785210YesYesNoN/Ahttps://www.sheffield.gov.uk/cleanairSheffield Council will introduce a class C Clean Air Zone which covers vans, lorries and buses but not private cars. They plan to implement it from 2021.Oct-1920181
Solihull Metropolitan Borough CouncilSolihull52.4118-1.7776719.461144.7573Feb-1854.375851960N/ANoN/AN/ASolihull City Council are expected to publish a clean air plan in early 2020Oct-1920181
South Gloucestershire District CouncilSouth Gloucestershire51.5264-2.4728658.631266.5443Feb-1841.1761542510N/An/aN/AN/ARecent data shows that traffic management will bring NO2 to legal levels by the end of 2019 so no further action is required.Oct-1920181
South Tyneside Metropolitan Borough CouncilSouth Tyneside54.9637-1.4419734793.74313Feb-1841.9374326480N/ANoN/AN/ARecent data shows that no further action is needed to meet legal NO2 levelsOct-1920181
Southampton CouncilSouthampton50.9097-1.4044752.1151351.3711Dec-1554.848845330YesYesYesN/Ahttps://www.southampton.gov.uk/moderngov/documents/s39732/Appendix%201.pdfSouthampton have put a non-charging CAZ in place - this is weaker than what they were originally asked to do. However their plans have been signed off by DEFRA and they have been given £1,807,303 to implement the plan, which aims to reduce levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) to legal levels by 2020.Oct-1920181
Southend Borough CouncilSouthend51.54590.7077936.92381263.8613Feb-1840.616321550N/ANoN/AN/ARecent data shows that no further action is needed to meet legal NO2 levelsOct-1920181
Stockport Metropolitan Borough CouncilStockport53.3933-2.1266688.92251009.7522Jul-1747.8013965190YesNoN/AN/Ahttps://cleanairgm.com/clean-air-planThe Greater Manchester Clean Air Plan includes a class C clean air zone across all ten of the city region’s boroughs, starting from 2021. This would include vans, lorries and buses but not private cars. There is ongoing discussion between the Greater Manchester Combined Authority and DEFRA on the timings for their CAZ and the amount of funding they need to implement it. In the mean time, they have invested in walking and cycling infrastructure and are involving the local health services in promoting information about air pollution.Oct-1920181
Stoke-on-Trent City CouncilStoke-on-Trent53.0027-2.1794684.30251063.4793Feb-1849.5398397130N/ANoN/AN/AStoke on Trent Council are expected to publish a clean air plan in early 2020Oct-1920181
Sunderland City CouncilSunderland54.9069-1.3838739801.55593Feb-1841.6063364500N/ANoN/AN/ARecent data shows that no further action is needed to meet legal NO2 levelsOct-1920181
Surrey Heath District CouncilSurrey51.3148-0.568261295.6492Jul-1748.3776413160YesYesNoN/Ahttps://www.a331airquality.co.uk/Surrey Heath Borough Council, Guildford Borough Council and Rushmoor Borough Council have been working together to reduce NO2 levels on roads across their areas. They have proposed speed restrictions until legal limits have beena chieved, but intend to reverse this approach once they are complying with the law.Oct-1920181
Tameside Metropolitan Borough CouncilTameside53.4806-2.081692.9125997.74352Jul-1750.0994459120YesNoN/AN/Ahttps://cleanairgm.com/clean-air-planThe Greater Manchester Clean Air Plan includes a class C clean air zone across all ten of the city region’s boroughs, starting from 2021. This would include vans, lorries and buses but not private cars. There is ongoing discussion between the Greater Manchester Combined Authority and DEFRA on the timings for their CAZ and the amount of funding they need to implement it. In the mean time, they have invested in walking and cycling infrastructure and are involving the local health services in promoting information about air pollution.Oct-1920181
Trafford Metropolitan Borough CouncilTrafford53.4215-2.3517669.22631005.8732Jul-1745.4193643360YesNoN/AN/Ahttps://cleanairgm.com/clean-air-planThe Greater Manchester Clean Air Plan includes a class C clean air zone across all ten of the city region’s boroughs, starting from 2021. This would include vans, lorries and buses but not private cars. There is ongoing discussion between the Greater Manchester Combined Authority and DEFRA on the timings for their CAZ and the amount of funding they need to implement it. In the mean time, they have invested in walking and cycling infrastructure and are involving the local health services in promoting information about air pollution.Oct-1920181
Wakefield Metropolitan District CouncilWakefield53.6833-1.5059743.2338969.86213Feb-1841.1248561521N/ANoN/AN/ARecent data shows that no further action is needed to meet legal NO2 levelsOct-1920181
Walsall Metropolitan Borough CouncilWalsall52.5862-1.9829701.49631120.7683Feb-1848.523452140N/ANoN/AN/ARecent data shows that no further action is needed to meet legal NO2 levelsOct-1920181
Wolverhampton City CouncilWolverhampton52.587-2.1288688.731120.6583Feb-1847.0057445261N/ANoN/AN/AWolverhaptom Council are expected to meet legal NO2 levels through traffic management and retrofitting older bususOct-1920181
Ashfield District CouncilAshfield53.0929-1.2697763.90131051.0723Feb-1841.7477957120171
Basildon District CouncilBasildon51.57610.4887917.76131259.7072Jul-1755.90804245020171
Basingstoke and Deane Borough CouncilBasingstoke51.2992-1.1783771.89881297.7953Feb-1842.268991755020171
Bath & North East Somerset CouncilBath & North East Somerset51.325-2.4766658.29751294.2462Jul-1730.600994062020170
Birmingham City CouncilBirmingham52.4862-1.8904709.591134.5231Dec-1554.892031487020171
Blaby District CouncilBlaby52.5708-1.1656773.011122.8863Feb-1843.221871551020171
Bolsover District CouncilBolsover53.231-1.2897762.15131032.0763Feb-1848.68077523020171
Bolton Metropolitan Borough CouncilBolton53.5769-2.4282662.5325984.49742Jul-1745.705537539020171
Bournemouth Borough CouncilBournemouth50.7192-1.8808710.431377.5743Feb-1847.240062532120171
Bradford City CouncilBradford53.796-1.7594721.0525954.36023Feb-1844.869159243020171
Bristol City CouncilBristol51.4545-2.5879648.55881276.4342Jul-1750.3894410419020171
Broxbourne Borough CouncilBroxbourne51.7435-0.0212873.1451236.6823Feb-1843.184081052020171
Burnley Borough CouncilBurnley53.7893-2.2405678.9563955.28183Feb-1841.080961858020171
Bury Metropolitan Borough CouncilBury53.5933-2.2966674.0475982.24162Jul-1746.702254835020171
Calderdale Metropolitan Borough CouncilCalderdale53.7248-1.8658711.7425964.15383Feb-1845.544466340020171
Cheltenham Borough CouncilCheltenham51.8994-2.0783693.14881215.2383Feb-1840.326743660120171
Coventry City CouncilCoventry52.4068-1.5197742.02631145.4452Jul-1750.138164321020171
Derby City CouncilDerby52.9225-1.4746745.97251074.511Dec-1548.06036730020171
Dudley Metropolitan Borough CouncilDudley52.5123-2.0811692.90381130.9333Feb-1844.691427445020171
Fareham Borough CouncilFareham50.8548-1.1866771.17251358.9222Jul-1748.504531525020171
Gateshead Metropolitan Borough CouncilGateshead54.9527-1.60347208052Jul-1751.780974613020171
Greater London AuthorityLondon51.5074-0.1278863.81751269.1571Dec-1590.6917119571020171
Guildford Borough CouncilGuildford51.2362-0.5704825.091306.4612Jul-1750.587783617020171
Kirklees Metropolitan CouncilKirklees53.5933-1.801717.4125982.24163Feb-1846.357249638020171
Leeds City CouncilLeeds53.8008-1.5491739.4538953.71Dec-1555.421361716020171
Leicester City CouncilLeicester52.6369-1.1398775.26751113.7943Feb-1844.719356344020171
Liverpool City CouncilLiverpool53.4084-2.9916613.2351007.6753Feb-1845.3496717141020171
Manchester City CouncilManchester53.4808-2.2426678.7725997.7162Jul-1750.5594414718020171
Middlesbrough Borough CouncilMiddlesbrough54.5742-1.235752847.31882Jul-1758.53657303120171
New Forest District CouncilNew Forest50.8759-1.6328732.131356.022Jul-1753.83074158020171
Newcastle City CouncilNewcastle54.9783-1.6178718791.73482Jul-1751.593016514020171
Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough CouncilNewcastle-under-Lyme53.0132-2.2273680.11131062.0343Feb-1850.938823116020171
North Tyneside CouncilNorth Tyneside55.0182-1.4858730786.24662Jul-1748.467526020171
Nottingham City CouncilNottingham52.9548-1.1581773.66631070.0671Dec-1546.770459934020171
Oldham Metropolitan Borough CouncilOldham53.5409-2.1114690.2525989.44923Feb-1847.131285333020171
Oxford City CouncilOxford51.752-1.2577764.95131235.5123Feb-1840.589872059020171
Peterborough CouncilPeterborough52.5695-0.2405853.95631123.0653Feb-1836.722892761020170
Plymouth City CouncilPlymouth50.3755-4.1427512.51381424.853Feb-1843.169673153120171
Poole Borough CouncilPoole50.715-1.9872701.121378.1523Feb-1843.602643950020171
Portsmouth City CouncilPortsmouth50.8198-1.088779.81363.7373Feb-1848.254695129020171
Reading Borough CouncilReading51.4543-0.9781789.41631276.4613Feb-1843.856794247020171
Rochford District CouncilRochford51.58210.7065936.81881258.8822Jul-1751.21769815020171
Rotherham Metropolitan Borough CouncilRotherham53.4326-1.3635755.69381004.3462Jul-1752.252425611020171
Rushmoor Borough CouncilRushmoor51.2712-0.7618808.34251301.6462Jul-1753.14373159020171
Salford Metropolitan Borough CouncilSalford53.4875-2.2901674.6163996.79442Jul-1746.498239237020171
Sandwell Metropolitan Borough CouncilSandwell52.5362-2.0108699.0551127.6463Feb-1848.459387427020171
Sefton Metropolitan Borough CouncilSefton53.5035-3.0351609.4288994.59363Feb-1844.976017142020171
Sheffield City CouncilSheffield53.3811-1.4701746.36631011.432Jul-1749.883198722020171
Solihull Metropolitan Borough CouncilSolihull52.4118-1.7776719.461144.7573Feb-1858.56839212020171
South Gloucestershire District CouncilSouth Gloucestershire51.5264-2.4728658.631266.5443Feb-1843.722374549020171
South Tyneside Metropolitan Borough CouncilSouth Tyneside54.9637-1.4419734793.74313Feb-1843.043012554020171
Southampton CouncilSouthampton50.9097-1.4044752.1151351.3711Dec-1558.42389544020171
Southend Borough CouncilSouthend51.54590.7077936.92381263.8613Feb-1843.83432148020171
Stockport Metropolitan Borough CouncilStockport53.3933-2.1266688.92251009.7522Jul-1748.351516728020171
Stoke-on-Trent City CouncilStoke-on-Trent53.0027-2.1794684.30251063.4793Feb-1852.59389510020171
Sunderland City CouncilSunderland54.9069-1.3838739801.55593Feb-1842.240046256020171
Surrey Heath District CouncilSurrey51.3148-0.568261295.6492Jul-1747.603821331020171
Tameside Metropolitan Borough CouncilTameside53.4806-2.081692.9125997.74352Jul-1752.038086112020171
Trafford Metropolitan Borough CouncilTrafford53.4215-2.3517669.22631005.8732Jul-1744.634454146020171
Wakefield Metropolitan District CouncilWakefield53.6833-1.5059743.2338969.86213Feb-1846.647116136120171
Walsall Metropolitan Borough CouncilWalsall52.5862-1.9829701.49631120.7683Feb-1850.193365120020171
Wolverhampton City CouncilWolverhampton52.587-2.1288688.731120.6583Feb-1848.608464724120171
Ashfield District CouncilAshfield53.0929-1.2697763.90131051.0723Feb-1840.70031953120161
Basildon District CouncilBasildon51.57610.4887917.76131259.7072Jul-1753.61482417020161
Basingstoke and Deane Borough CouncilBasingstoke51.2992-1.1783771.89881297.7953Feb-1839.255051745020161
Bath & North East Somerset CouncilBath & North East Somerset51.325-2.4766658.29751294.2462Jul-1731.310924062020160
Birmingham City CouncilBirmingham52.4862-1.8904709.591134.5231Dec-1558.269371494020161
Blaby District CouncilBlaby52.5708-1.1656773.011122.8863Feb-1842.087911552020161
Bolsover District CouncilBolsover53.231-1.2897762.15131032.0763Feb-1845.50936430020161
Bolton Metropolitan Borough CouncilBolton53.5769-2.4282662.5325984.49742Jul-1748.077077529020161
Bournemouth Borough CouncilBournemouth50.7192-1.8808710.431377.5743Feb-1845.575232540120161
Bradford City CouncilBradford53.796-1.7594721.0525954.36023Feb-1843.079029239020161
Bristol City CouncilBristol51.4545-2.5879648.55881276.4342Jul-1746.5959710318020161
Broxbourne Borough CouncilBroxbourne51.7435-0.0212873.1451236.6823Feb-1838.95087956020161
Burnley Borough CouncilBurnley53.7893-2.2405678.9563955.28183Feb-1838.57511854020161
Bury Metropolitan Borough CouncilBury53.5933-2.2966674.0475982.24162Jul-1740.793494728020161
Calderdale Metropolitan Borough CouncilCalderdale53.7248-1.8658711.7425964.15383Feb-1843.222716342020161
Cheltenham Borough CouncilCheltenham51.8994-2.0783693.14881215.2383Feb-1840.443053658120161
Coventry City CouncilCoventry52.4068-1.5197742.02631145.4452Jul-1747.697034323020161
Derby City CouncilDerby52.9225-1.4746745.97251074.511Dec-1545.633586635020161
Dudley Metropolitan Borough CouncilDudley52.5123-2.0811692.90381130.9333Feb-1842.485256838020161
Fareham Borough CouncilFareham50.8548-1.1866771.17251358.9222Jul-1745.743091531020161
Gateshead Metropolitan Borough CouncilGateshead54.9527-1.60347208052Jul-1754.490984812020161
Greater London AuthorityLondon51.5074-0.1278863.81751269.1571Dec-15101.9218819231020161
Guildford Borough CouncilGuildford51.2362-0.5704825.091306.4612Jul-1748.47373416020161
Kirklees Metropolitan CouncilKirklees53.5933-1.801717.4125982.24163Feb-1845.36449750020161
Leeds City CouncilLeeds53.8008-1.5491739.4538953.71Dec-1552.759521675020161
Leicester City CouncilLeicester52.6369-1.1398775.26751113.7943Feb-1842.727966347020161
Liverpool City CouncilLiverpool53.4084-2.9916613.2351007.6753Feb-1848.2917617141020161
Manchester City CouncilManchester53.4808-2.2426678.7725997.7162Jul-1746.8276615021020161
Middlesbrough Borough CouncilMiddlesbrough54.5742-1.235752847.31882Jul-1754.58293302120161
New Forest District CouncilNew Forest50.8759-1.6328732.131356.022Jul-1750.22345157020161
Newcastle City CouncilNewcastle54.9783-1.6178718791.73482Jul-1747.648756713020161
Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough CouncilNewcastle-under-Lyme53.0132-2.2273680.11131062.0343Feb-1847.597193119020161
North Tyneside CouncilNorth Tyneside55.0182-1.4858730786.24662Jul-1745.369097432020161
Nottingham City CouncilNottingham52.9548-1.1581773.66631070.0671Dec-1545.88408996020161
Oldham Metropolitan Borough CouncilOldham53.5409-2.1114690.2525989.44923Feb-1844.831085336020161
Oxford City CouncilOxford51.752-1.2577764.95131235.5123Feb-1838.353931961020161
Peterborough CouncilPeterborough52.5695-0.2405853.95631123.0653Feb-1834.416772855020161
Plymouth City CouncilPlymouth50.3755-4.1427512.51381424.853Feb-1841.781413046120161
Poole Borough CouncilPoole50.715-1.9872701.121378.1523Feb-1842.380653749020161
Portsmouth City CouncilPortsmouth50.8198-1.088779.81363.7373Feb-1847.13165037020161
Reading Borough CouncilReading51.4543-0.9781789.41631276.4613Feb-1846.095034048020161
Rochford District CouncilRochford51.58210.7065936.81881258.8822Jul-1747.58776827020161
Rotherham Metropolitan Borough CouncilRotherham53.4326-1.3635755.69381004.3462Jul-1753.1809569020161
Rushmoor Borough CouncilRushmoor51.2712-0.7618808.34251301.6462Jul-1750.905461511020161
Salford Metropolitan Borough CouncilSalford53.4875-2.2901674.6163996.79442Jul-1745.324389334020161
Sandwell Metropolitan Borough CouncilSandwell52.5362-2.0108699.0551127.6463Feb-1846.889777415020161
Sefton Metropolitan Borough CouncilSefton53.5035-3.0351609.4288994.59363Feb-1844.459996951020161
Sheffield City CouncilSheffield53.3811-1.4701746.36631011.432Jul-1747.682078722020161
Solihull Metropolitan Borough CouncilSolihull52.4118-1.7776719.461144.7573Feb-1854.375852210020161
South Gloucestershire District CouncilSouth Gloucestershire51.5264-2.4728658.631266.5443Feb-1841.176154543020161
South Tyneside Metropolitan Borough CouncilSouth Tyneside54.9637-1.4419734793.74313Feb-1841.937432560020161
Southampton CouncilSouthampton50.9097-1.4044752.1151351.3711Dec-1554.84884543020161
Southend Borough CouncilSouthend51.54590.7077936.92381263.8613Feb-1840.61632157020161
Stockport Metropolitan Borough CouncilStockport53.3933-2.1266688.92251009.7522Jul-1747.801396726020161
Stoke-on-Trent City CouncilStoke-on-Trent53.0027-2.1794684.30251063.4793Feb-1849.53983948020161
Sunderland City CouncilSunderland54.9069-1.3838739801.55593Feb-1841.606336059020161
Surrey Heath District CouncilSurrey51.3148-0.568261295.6492Jul-1748.377641425020161
Tameside Metropolitan Borough CouncilTameside53.4806-2.081692.9125997.74352Jul-1750.099446114020161
Trafford Metropolitan Borough CouncilTrafford53.4215-2.3517669.22631005.8732Jul-1745.419364144020161
Wakefield Metropolitan District CouncilWakefield53.6833-1.5059743.2338969.86213Feb-1841.124856233120161
Walsall Metropolitan Borough CouncilWalsall52.5862-1.9829701.49631120.7683Feb-1848.52345220020161
Wolverhampton City CouncilWolverhampton52.587-2.1288688.731120.6583Feb-1847.005744624120161

A detailed analysis

We've made some progress, but not fast enough

Local authorities are making progress with roadside concentrations of NO2.

4 more local authorities managed to reduce NO2 levels within legal limits last year and 51 out of the 62 local authorities saw NO2 levels improve by some amount between 2017 - 2018.

However, the previous year saw 61 out of the 62 local authorities improve their NO2 levels. This is concerning as it could suggest progress is slowing rather than speeding up. 

YearBreached LasTotal Las% Breached
2016616298%
2017606297%
2018566290%

% of local authorities exceeding legal limits

The Ultra Low Emission Zone in London shows promising results

While London’s NO2 levels are still above legal limits, the new ultra low emission zone (ULEZ) will make a difference. New research shows that roadside NO2 pollution has reduced by 36 per cent within the zone.

Analysis for the Greater London Authority estimates that the reduction in NO2 pollution linked to the ULEZ is 29 per cent. This is because there has been a fall in the number high polluting vehicles entering the zone.

We need all local authorities to put the right policies in place and make consistent progress. They need to reduce pollution levels below legal limits as quickly as possible.

Air quality monitoring is inadequate across the UK

The number of places being monitored and the quality of air pollution monitoring varies by area.

Under the national air quality network, some areas have as little as four NO2 monitoring locations while Leeds has 165 and London has 1,080. There is no central place that brings together all national and local air quality monitoring data. This means our understanding of the problem is limited and certain areas are neglected.

Everyone deserves to know if the air in their local area is safe to breathe. We need better monitoring to make sure we all have information to help protect our heath.

Monitoring of air quality across the UK varies widely

Disputes between local and national government  

Some councils, like Coventry, dispute the need for clean air zones, even when it has been recommended by the government.

In some areas, clean air zones won’t be suitable for tackling the problem. It is up to local authorities to choose the solutions that will help them reach legal limits as quickly as possible. But in many areas where clean air zones have been specifically recommended by the government, the local authorities disagree.

We need more clean air zones

Only 17 out of 62 local authorities have plans for a clean air zone.

The government’s own research says that charging clean air zones are the quickest way to bring NO2 levels down for the majority of areas. That’s why these zones must be implemented. What’s more, these zones must include charging for private cars which are a big part of our toxic air problem.

Clean air zones are the most effective means of reducing air pollution

What we're asking for

There is no safe level of air pollution and everyone deserves the right to breathe clean air.  To change the toxic levels of pollution in the UK:

  • We need better monitoring to inform each local area’s clean air plan and across the country
  • We need better information and data on air pollution so that everyone has clear advice on how to protect themselves and breathe cleaner air
  • We need the government to strengthen the national clean air strategy.
  • We need a specific plan to protect the most at risk, including children and people with a lung condition, from the effects of toxic air
  • We need greater government support for local authorities so they can put the right solutions in place, including clean air zones  

Help and more info

Visit our website for more information on air pollution.

Data sources

All data sources can be found on our data sources page