Air Quality Strategy

The Air Quality Strategy for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland (latest version published in July 2007) establishes the framework for air quality improvements across the UK. Measures agreed at the national and international level are the foundations on which the strategy is based.

The strategy sets out the UK Air Quality Standards and Objectives which have been set in order to measure the improvement of air quality.

Clean Air Strategy

In January 2019, the UK Department for Environment, Food and Affairs published the UK Clean Air Strategy.  This strategy seeks to achieve the following stated goals:

  • protect the nation’s health
  • protect the environment
  • secure clean growth and innovation
  • reduce emissions from transport, homes, farming and industry
  • monitor progress.

Section 9.5 of the Clean Air Strategy focuses on actions under way to tackle air pollution in Northern Ireland. A separate Clean Air Strategy for Northern Ireland is being prepared by DAERA: until this is published, the 2007 Air Quality Strategy remains in force in Northern Ireland.

Local Air Quality Management

A system of Local Air Quality Management (LAQM) has been in place in the UK since 1997, with the overall aim of ensuring that the national air quality objectives will be achieved in all areas.  Defra and the Devolved Administrations have issued Technical and Policy Guidance documents for LAQM, to ensure that all local authorities (district councils in Northern Ireland) follow best practice.

District councils are required to review their current air quality and assess whether any locations are likely to exceed the Air Quality Strategy Objectives. If they identify areas of exceedence then one or more Air Quality Management Areas (AQMAs) will need to be defined, and appropriate Action Plans developed and implemented. District councils are encouraged to work together, and to consult with other local stakeholders to ensure that the process is carried out in a transparent fashion.

Information on LAQM in Northern Ireland, including details of AQMAs and Action Plans, is available from the LAQM section of this website.

Further Information

For further information on air quality policy within Northern Ireland, the UK and European Community, please see the Defra policy webpage and DAERA’s Air Quality Monitoring, Policy and Legislation webpage.