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Home > Environment > Air quality

Air quality

 Air quality in the UK has improved considerably over the last few decades as a result of regulation of emissions from industrial processes, progressive tightening of emissions and fuel standards for road vehicles and controlling smoke from domestic premises.  Despite this positive picture, air pollution still harms health and the environment and is currently estimated to reduce life expectancy by an average of 8 months, with estimated equivalent health costs of up to £20 billion each year.

The UK Air Quality Strategy commits local authorities to achieve Air Quality Objectives for seven pollutants.  The Environment Act 1995 requires local authorities to periodically review and assess air quality in their areas to determine whether the national Air Quality Objectives are being met.


Anti idling

Switching off engines when parked is a simple way of improving air quality. Idling often occurs near to schools which can damage children’s health. The following resources can be used by schools or communities to promote the anti idling message.


Monitoring and reporting

Local councils are required to regularly assess or monitor air quality to identify any areas that are particularly high in pollutants.  Any identified areas are known as 'Air Quality Management Areas' - these are monitored and regularly assessed with an Action Plan put in place to try and minimise pollution.  The Councils’ monitoring results and assessments of air quality may be downloaded from the following links:


Cross Street, Sudbury – Air Quality Management Area

Babergh District Council has designated part of Cross Street in Sudbury as an Air Quality Management Area because Nitrogen dioxide levels, arising mainly from traffic emissions, are above the Annual Average Objective near some homes.

We have produced an Air Quality Action Plan which aims to address a very specific air quality problem on certain sections of Cross Street related to the narrow, ‘canyon’-like nature of the road, rather than providing a solution to wider traffic congestion in Sudbury.

The Action Plan has been produced in partnership with other relevant agencies and Suffolk County Council’s Transport Department in particular.  It has been approved by the Government’s air quality experts and sets out a package of measures and joint working with other agencies aimed at addressing the nitrogen dioxide levels.

The Action Plan was produced following some extensive studies of the area, the reports for which may be downloaded here:

Simple ways to improve air quality 

As an individual there are many things that you can do to help improve the air quality and reduce air pollution.  These include:

  • Use your car less.  Try to walk, cycle, and use the bus or train.  Cars are particularly polluting over short journeys, so aim to cut these out first.  The Suffolk County Council Travel Plans website provides information about journey planning.
  • Reduce emissions from your car by ensuring it is regularly serviced and well maintained, you only carry the weight you need, and you drive in a gentle, steady manner.
  • Consider purchasing an electric vehicle; the costs are always reducing and the technology and infrastructure are now supporting this significant change in vehicle technology.
  • When buying a traditional fuel vehicle consider the most fuel efficient petrol vehicle and use cleaner alternative fuels where possible.
  • Encourage your employer, school or college to set up a Green Travel Plan.
  • Car share, to reduce emissions and save money.  Further details can be found on the Suffolk Car Share website.
  • Avoid having bonfires.  If you do choose to have a fire, only burn dry garden waste and avoid burning on days that already have high pollution levels.
  • Avoid burning solid fuel.  If you do choose to burn solid fuel, always ensure the appliance is well maintained and fuel is clean and dry.