What your council does to improve air quality
The council has a duty to assess air quality to protect the health of everyone living and working here as well as those visiting the area. It does this by:
- monitoring several pollutants across Sandwell and publishing the results
- assessing whether those pollutants are likely to exceed air quality objectives which are health based standards set nationally as detailed in the Government's Air Quality Strategy
- where there is a likely exceedance, the Council has a duty to declare an Air Quality Management Area and take steps using an Air Quality Action Plan to help reduce these levels
- regularly reviewing and reporting on air quality as well as consultation with residents, businesses and partners
- taking air quality into account when assessing planning applications to ensure that new developments, such as new roads or factories, do not make air quality worse or that new houses are not built where air quality is already poor. Air quality supplementary planning guidance is being produced to assist developers and aid regeneration
- Regulating a large number of industrial activities within the borough.
Sandwell is an area that historically had poor air quality due to industrial emissions. This is less so now due to cleaner technology and the closure of many traditional heavy industrial premises.
However, the main air quality issue now is traffic pollution due to high traffic volume, congestion and many households close to the road network. Also, the busy motorway network runs through the heart of Sandwell and we are the only West Midland authority which shares all of its boundaries with other urbanised authorities within the conurbation.
Not surprisingly, therefore, the whole of Sandwell has been declared as an Air Quality Management Area due to likely exceedances of the Air Quality Objective for Nitrogen Dioxide of 40 microgrammes per cubic metre (ug/m3). An Action Plan is in place and we are working to improve the situation.
The Air Quality Progress Report 2014 is the most recent report on air quality in Sandwell.
Historical reports can be accessed in the downloads section.