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 in an Annual Status Report (ASR). This provides a comprehensive summary of Sandwell's air quality monitoring data and actions being taken to improve air quality, and the ASR 2021 is now available. The ASR 2022 has now been submitted to Defra, and a copy will be available once approved.
- assessing whether key air pollutants are likely to exceed air quality objectives which are health based standards set nationally, as detailed in the Government's Air Quality Strategy
- the whole borough of Sandwell is declared an Air Quality Management Area and we take steps using an Air Quality Action Plan to help improve air quality
- taking air quality into account when assessing planning applications to ensure that new developments, such as new roads, houses or factories, do not make air quality worse. Air quality supplementary planning guidance is available to assist developers and achieve sustainable regeneration, such as recommending electric vehicle charging points and low emission boilers
- regulating a large number of industrial activities within the borough
- Sandwell Air Quality team has recently been successful in securing a Defra grant to work with faith groups across Sandwell to improve air quality via behavioural change
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.
Another type of air pollution is Particulate Matter (PM) is a pollutant of increasing concern. Particulate matter causes a wide range of health problems, such as lung cancer, heart disease and more. A large proportion of this pollutant comes from wood burning stoves and other domestic indoor combustion, as well as from diesel vehicles.
The most recent report, Air Quality Annual Status Report 2021, is now available.
Historical reports can be accessed in the downloads section.