Planning and air quality
Planning and air quality

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

  • Planning and air quality
  • Air quality considerations
  • National planning policy
  • Local planning policy
  • Neighbourhood planning
  • Planning applications
  • Material considerations
  • Call-in where limit values are breached
  • Mitigating impacts on air quality
  • Planning conditions
  • More...

Air quality is an increasingly important concern, for both central government and local authorities. Policies to manage and improve air quality are largely driven by Archived Directive 2008/50/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 May 2008 on ambient air quality and cleaner air for Europe (referred to as the Archived Ambient Air Quality Directive), as it had effect immediately before 11pm on 31 December 2020, which set legally binding limits for concentrations of major air pollutants that impact public health. Defra carries out an annual national assessment of air quality to determine compliance with these limits and the local air quality management regime requires district and unitary authorities to regularly review and assess air quality in their area.

Where this review reveals that national objectives are not met, or are at risk of not being met, the local authority must declare an Air Quality Management Area (AQMA) and prepare and Air Quality Action Plan (see ‘Air Quality Management Areas (AQMAs)’ below). It is therefore important that the potential impact of new development on air quality is taken into account in planning where relevant limits have been exceeded or are near the limit.

Air quality may therefore be, and increasingly is, a material planning consideration which must be considered by local planning authorities (LPAs) when determining planning applications. An appropriate assessment of air

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