Air pollution—ambient air quality

The following Environment practice note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Air pollution—ambient air quality
  • Brexit
  • EU Exit Regulations
  • Ambient Air Quality Directive 2008/50/EC
  • Air Quality Standards Regulations
  • Assessment of ambient air quality—sulphur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide and oxides of nitrogen, particulate matters, lead, benzene, carbon monoxide
  • Assessment of ambient air—ozone
  • Assessment of ambient air—arsenic, cadmium, nickel, mercury, benzo(a)pyrene and other polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons
  • Duties of Secretary of State/Welsh Minister
  • Duties in relation to limit values
  • More...

Air pollution—ambient air quality


11 pm (GMT) on 31 December 2020 marked the end of the Brexit transition/implementation period entered into following the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. At this point in time (referred to in UK law as ‘IP completion day’), key transitional arrangements came to an end and significant changes began to take effect across the UK’s legal regime.

EU Exit Regulations

Air Quality (Amendment of Domestic Regulations) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019, SI 2019/74 and Air Quality Standards (Wales) (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019, SI 2019/390 are made to address the functioning of subordinate legislation concerning air pollution, including and relevant to this content:

  1. Air Quality Standards (Wales) Regulations 2010, SI 2010/1433

  2. Air Quality Standards Regulations 2010, SI 2010/1001

  3. the National Emission Ceilings Regulations 2018, SI 2018/129

The majority of amendments made are changes to aid interpretation (such as when interpreting the Ambient Air Quality Directive 2008/50/EC), but any substantive changes are detailed below. These amendments are largely effective on the implementation period completion date.

The Environment (Miscellaneous Amendments) (EU Exit) Regulations 2020, SI 2020/1313 make amendments to the Air Quality Standards Regulations 2010 to update a limit value applicable from 2020 in schedule 2 and the National Emission Ceilings Regulations 2018 to amend a national emission ceiling obligation in schedule 3 (to ensure in both cases that these aligns with the applicable EU Directive obligation).

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