Here at Somerset Council, we are committed to maintaining good standards of air quality across the district.
- Monitoring levels of harmful pollutants
- Inspecting companies’ emissions under the pollution prevention and control (PPC) regime
- Investigating complaints
- Giving advice about burning waste
- Discussing the risks of pollution in new developments with developers
- Encouraging cleaner modes of transport
- The use of wood burning stoves
How we monitor air quality in Somerset
The Environment Act 1995 placed a requirement on the UK Government to prepare an Air Quality Strategy for England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Within the Air Quality Strategy, National Air Quality Objectives are set out. These are based upon EU Limit Values. Locally we monitor air quality against these limit values.
There is one automated pollution monitor in Somerset forming part of the national network. It is in rural south Somerset, and intended to provide background rural readings.
In May 2022 we installed five new Zephyr air quality monitors which provide near real time data on 6 pollutants: nitrogen oxide, nitrogen dioxide, ozone, and three sizes of particulate, PM1, PM2.5 and PM10. Two are located in Taunton, on East Reach and North Street, two in Yeovil on Sherborne Road and Bond Street, and one in Frome on Portway. These monitors provide readings every 10 minutes, enabling a detailed understanding of factors effecting localised pollution levels to help inform possible interventions to reduce exposure. We are currently exploring how best to enable public access through this website to the latest readings.
There are also automated monitors in Bridgwater, located on the major transport routes and checking particulate pollution levels as part of the Hinkley Point C nuclear power station project.The conclusion of studies carried out for EDF Energy are that there will be no breaches of Air Quality Objectives. However, the number and spread of diffusion tubes for NOx monitoring has been increased, and they are closely monitored in the areas that may be affected by any associated development or traffic.
In addition, there is monitoring for nitrogen dioxide which is carried out using diffusion tubes in numerous locations around the county. These are left in place for a month at a time and then sent off for analysis. The annual mean (average) reading is then calculated for each location. Traffic and weather conditions result in large variations in short term levels of nitrogen dioxide, but these do not exceed the statutory limit.
Every year, we have to produce an Annual Status Report (previously known as Updating and Screening Assessments and Progress Reports). These reports show the monitoring we have done and the steps we have taken so far to improve the air quality in the county. We look at specific pollutants and measure the levels of these to make sure they are below national objectives.
Prior to Somerset Council all reports were produced by each of the four districts and these reports can be found here. From April 2023 there will be one ASR and other reports for Somerset Council as a whole. Within Somerset the majority of local air quality pollution is caused by road traffic.
Older reports are available on request.
If these levels will not be met, we must designate an Air Quality Management Area (AQMA). We have to produce an action plan outlining measures that can be taken to try to improve air quality in the area.
Air Quality Management Areas
DEFRA’s webpages on the Air Quality Management Areas in Taunton and Yeovil:
If you are experiencing problems in your locality from smoke, dust or similar emissions from specific premises or houses, you can report them as nuisances to your district council which will investigate and take action as appropriate.
Similarly, if you are experiencing problems with quarry dust or agricultural odours, report in the first instance to your district council. Some premises are regulated by the Environment Agency, but your council will be able to advise if that is the case.