Air pollution prevention and control

Clean Air Act

Harlow Council enforces the Clean Air Act (CAA) legislation, dealing with dark smoke from chimneys. Smoke Control Orders prohibit smoke from most domestic chimneys and action can be taken against dark smoke from commercial and industrial chimneys. The Council also has powers to require information from occupiers about emissions of some pollutants: any information obtained in this way would be placed on public register [Clean Air Act 1993 section 36]. At the time of writing [autumn 2008] this power had not been used and there were no entries in the register.

For information about Smoke Control Orders or to enquire about the CAA section 36 register, please Contact Harlow.

Air quality management

Under The Environment Act 1995, the National Air Quality Strategy outlines recommended maximum levels of eight pollutants based on medical and scientific evidence. The Expert Panel on Air Quality Standards (EPAQS) has set these levels as indicators of general air quality and to protect people's health and the environment.

Local Authorities are required by law to continually review air quality within their area. Annual reports must be prepared and submitted to the Government and where it is reported that any of the National Air Quality Objectives are likely to be breached the Council must declare an Air Quality Management Area and carry out more detailed assessments.

The most important pollutant for the Borough is nitrogen dioxide (NO2) which is associated with road transport. NO2 is a pollutant that is produced by all combustion processes involving fossil fuels. Monitoring is carried out within the Harlow area using passive diffusion tubes placed at strategic locations.

These tubes are analysed each month at an accredited laboratory in order to see if the NO2 level in the air exceeds an annual average of 40 micrograms per cubic metre. If this were to happen this could lead to Air Quality Management Areas being declared. To date no such areas have been declared in Harlow.

For information regarding air quality in the Harlow area please visit Essex Air website