Air Quality

The Environment Act 1995 introduced the system known as Local Air Quality Management (LAQM) which requires local authorities to regularly review and assess air quality in their areas and to determine whether or not the air quality objectives are likely to be achieved.  Where the air quality objectives are considered likely to be exceeded, the local authority must then declare an Air Quality Management Area (AQMA) and prepare an Air Quality Action Plan (AQAP) setting out the measures it intends to put in place to meet the objectives.

As in other parts of the UK road traffic emissions are the principal source of poor air quality in East Cambridgeshire. Nitrogen dioxide is the main substance of concern in vehicle emissions. The council uses chemical diffusion tubes to monitor nitrogen dioxide levels at 21 sites across the district.

As East Cambridgeshire is predominantly rural in character air quality is relatively good and is improving. There are currently no AQMAs in the district and air quality objectives are currently being achieved across the district. Air quality in Station Road, Ely has improved since the opening of the A142 Ely Southern Bypass in October 2018.

Industrial processes have the potential to affect air quality.  However, these are few in East Cambridgeshire and currently there are no significant air quality problems related to industrial processes.

Information on air quality is reported annually to DEFRA. The most recent reports can be viewed below:

Does the Council regulate industrial processes in the district (LA-IPPC, Part A(2)'s and Part B's)?

Certain industrial processes have the potential to cause air pollution. Since 1990, many of these processes have required an authorisation from the Local Authority or the Environment Agency (EA) to allow then to operate the proscribed process.

Since 2000 these authorisations, issued under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 have been transferred to permits under the Pollution Prevention and Control Act 1999. This was undertaken to comply with the European Directive on Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control. Generally, processes have to comply with very detailed guidance issued by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA).

Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control

There are currently three types of process classifications. A1 processes are regulated by the EA, while A2 and Part B processes are regulated by the Local Authority. Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control (IPPC) cover A1 and A2 processes and it requires all environmental emissions and impacts to be considered together, including; Noise, Energy consumption, Land contamination, Sustainable practices and Environmental accident prevention. Currently we do not have any A2 processes in East Cambridgeshire.

Local Authority Pollution Prevention and Control (LAPPC) 

The Part B Processes are covered under Local Authority Pollution Prevention and Control (LAPPC), which looks at potential releases to air.

Prescribed Processes 

The Pollution and Prevention and Control Regulations 2000 prescribe the industrial processes, which are required to hold permits. These can be found on DEFRA's website. An operator of a prescribed process which does not hold a permit is committing an offence and companies can be fined up to £50,000. Prior to commencing the operation of a prescribed process, the operator must submit an application, with a fee to the regulating authority. The authority must then consult statutory bodies for any comments on the application. A permit must then be issued or refused within a set time period. East Cambs District Council currently regulates over 20 prescribed processes across the district ranging from Petrol Stations to concrete batching plants. The Prescribed Process Public Register is available to download.

Role of The Council

The Council administers the permitting system in all cases where it is the lead authority (A2 & B). Its role is to prepare and issue permits, to ensure that all processes requiring a permit hold one, to monitor compliance with the conditions within the permit and to take any enforcement action that may become necessary. Each permit contains a number of conditions, which regulate the way a process operates. These conditions can include emission limits and improvements required to achieve national standards in accordance with relevant government guidance as well as many others, which apply to a wide range of things, such as maintenance and good housekeeping. Generally, depending on the nature of the process, the LAPPC permit will concentrate on reducing releases of volatile organic compounds (VOC's), organic solvents, dust and odour (smell).

Routine inspections are carried out and complaints investigated to check compliance. If the agreed emission limits are being exceeded the council can take enforcement action against the operator.

The Council must also maintain a public register of all Part B and A2 processes permitted by the authority. The EA maintains the public register for all A1 processes, but a duplicate copy is maintained by the Local Authority. If you wish to view this register please contact the Council to make an appointment.

Industrial processes that discharge emissions to the atmosphere do have the potential to impact on air quality. However, the processes in the district are generally operated in a responsible manner, and we therefore do not currently have any significant air quality problems related to industrial processes.

I operate a process under Local Authority Pollution Prevention and Control/Local Authority Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control is there any advice?

Process Guidance Notes

The Process Guidance (PG) Notes are issued by the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. They form statutory guidance on what constitute the Best Available Techniques (BAT) for LAPPC installations (Part B processes). A list of all the available Process Guidance notes are available on the DEFRA website.

Applying for a Permit

The application forms needed to apply for a permit, are available from the DEFRA website. Guidance on the policy and procedures to be followed when applying for a permit can also be found on the DEFRA website. If you have any concerns please contact the Environmental Health department of the Council on 01353 665555.

Making Changes

Whether it is on the initiative of the operator or to implement a requirement of the Council, companies holding permits have to follow legal procedures when making changes to their process.  Any changes should be discussed with the regulator before they are made and where the proposed change is classed as a 'substantial change' as defined in the Pollution Prevention and Control Regulations 2000, a formal application for permission must be made to vary the permit.

Transfers and Surrender of Permits

Where a holder of a permit wishes to sell the business or transfer the permit to another person both parties must jointly apply to the enforcing authority to transfer the permit. If a prescribed process is to cease operation then the permit holder must notify the enforcing authority of the date that the operations will cease and complete a surrender form which can be found on DEFRA's website.

Fees and Charges

The fees and charges for operating a prescribed process are set by DEFRA and the current level of fees can be found on the DEFRA website. The Council sends out invoices at the start of each new financial year.