What's New

Keeping you Up-to-Date with Changes to the LAQM Pages

The LAQM Helpdesk is operated on behalf of Defra and the Devolved Administrations by Bureau Veritas, in conjunction with contract partners AECOM and the National Physical Laboratory, and replaces the three previously separate helpdesks which were in operation for LAQM.

2021 Updates

03 September 2021

Air Quality Grant 21/22 Scheme – update

Local authorities in England can now apply for the Air Quality Grant Scheme 2021 to 2022.  The grant will be competitive and will award at least £9 million to English local authorities. 

Local Authorities should make applications via Bravo (https://defra.bravosolution.co.uk/web/login.html) under view current opportunities. Applications must be received by midday 8 October 2021.

The fund this year is split into 2 Lots and in particular, we’re looking for applications for:

  • Lot 1 – projects designed to reduce air pollutant exceedances especially in those areas that are projected to remain in exceedance of the UK’s legal targets
  • Lot 2 – projects that will improve knowledge and information about air quality and steps individuals can take to reduce their exposure to air pollution and/or projects that include measures that deal with Particulate Matter

Contact us

Local Authorities who have a query about grant applications should send these via the messaging tool in Bravo.

If you have a general query about air quality, contact the Defra Helpline: defra.helpline@defra.gov.uk

19 August 2021

Air Quality Grant 21/22 Scheme – update

(This information is now out of date, please see the Air Quality Grant update on 3rd September for the latest information.)

Defra’s Air Quality Grant scheme will launch in the first week of September.  The grant will be competitive and will award at least £9 million to English Local Authorities.  This year applicants will be able to submit a sole bid for up to £600k and a joint bid for up to £1m. 

This year’s fund will be split between 2 lots:

Lot 1 will award funding to projects that improve local air quality and should be linked to Local Air Quality Action Plans (although consideration will also be given to unrelated innovative projects that align to national strategies/priorities).  English LAs are eligible to apply with the exception of:

LAs that are in the process of developing a local NO2 Plan following the receipt of a Ministerial Direction under the 2017 Plan for tackling roadside NO2

LAs that have completed a local NO2 Plan and have been directed to carry out further measures as a result of that local Plan.

Lot 2 is open to all English LAs and will award funding to:

  • Projects that improve public awareness in local communities about the risks of air pollution
  • Projects that deal with Particulate Matter

The majority of the finance available is capital so revenue funding will be limited to around 30-35% of the total application value.  Please bear this in mind whilst considering the type of project you may wish to apply for.  Further details will be published in the Invitation to Apply (ITA) document.  The ITA will be available when the scheme is officially launched in September and can be accessed after registering an interest in Defra’s e-application system, Bravo, which can be found at https://defra.bravosolution.co.uk.  

18 August 2021

The LAQM website has been updated in line with feedback received from several user needs workshops.

Amongst the improvements made, we have looked to:

  • Make the website accessible and usable for all
  • More prominently highlight the areas and content that are most frequently accessed
  • Improve the navigation structure to provide a more user-friendly experience
  • Ensure the website is up to date with relevant Web Compliance Regulations

21 July 2021

The latest summaries of participating laboratories’ performance in the AIR-PT scheme for NO2 diffusion tubes have been added and are available via the QA QC Framework Webpage.

06 July 2021

National Diffusion Tube Bias Adjustment Spreadsheet

The National Diffusion Tube Bias Adjustment Factors Spreadsheet June 2021 Update is now available.

This provides for the second round of National Diffusion Tube Bias Adjustment Factors for 2020 diffusion tube monitoring data. We would like to thank all the local authorities who submitted co-location study results. Local authorities can continue to return co-location studies for diffusion tubes for inclusion (pending data quality checks) in the next update which is due in September 2021.

The summary of NO2 Diffusion Tube precision information has also been updated.

03 June 2021

Air Quality Grant 21/22 Scheme

(This information is now out of date, please see the Air Quality Grant update on 3rd September for the latest information.)

Defra will launch another Air Quality Grant Scheme this autumn for the 21/22 scheme year with £8m of funding available.

An important change you should be aware of is the majority of the fund is capital: £6m capital and £2m revenue.

Details regarding grant objectives, how the capital and revenue will be allocated, eligibility requirements and the process for applying will be confirmed on GOV.UK and through social media when the grant launches later in the autumn.  The scheme is competitive so we are unable to answer individual queries about the grant ahead of the launch, but any updates that can be shared in advance will be published here on the LAQM website.

02 June 2021

LAQM Portal

We are pleased to announce that the LAQM Portal is now live. The Portal incorporates the previous Report Submission Website (RSW) and the Diffusion Tube Data Entry System (DTDES), providing all local authorities with a single access point to submit and maintain all relevant information regarding LAQM.

For local authorities in England (excluding London boroughs), the LAQM Portal also provides the following additional functionality:

  • Submission of NO2 Diffusion Tube Monitoring data via the DTDES – now a mandatory annual requirement. As a reminder, this submission should be completed once all monitoring data for the reporting year has been processed. To assist with this process, the Diffusion Tube Data Processing Tool provides an output table which can be directly submitted via the DTDES. Whilst use of the Diffusion Tube Data Processing Tool is encouraged, it is not mandatory. For those local authorities that continue to undertake their diffusion tube processing outside of the Diffusion Tube Data Processing Tool, an alternative standardised template proforma is now available, which will assist local authorities in submitting their processed NO2 diffusion tube data to the LAQM Portal via the DTDES.

Existing users of the RSW and DTDES systems should be able to use their email address to request a new password by clicking “I forgot my password” on the LAQM Portal Login page and following the instructions accordingly. If your email address is not recognised or you are having technical issues logging on, please contact the LAQM Portal Admin Team for assistance.

Update to the Diffusion Tube Data Processing Tool

An updated version of the Diffusion Tube Data Processing Tool is now available. Based upon user feedback, the updated tool includes the following improvements:

  1. Improved data entry – An issue whereby ‘cutting and pasting’ of data within the STEP 2 – Diffusion Tube Inputs tab may have led to calculation errors has been resolved.
  2. Fall off with Distance Adjustment – It is now possible to apply the fall-off adjustment to receptors that are located closer to the adjacent road source than the monitoring site.

The above improvements should not necessitate any reworking and would have only affected a very limited number of users, for which the issue should have been observed. If you are unsure of any potential impact, please contact the LAQM Support Helpdesk for assistance.

Diffusion Tube Data Processing Tool Tutorial Video

As to be expected with any new tool, the LAQM Support Helpdesk have received a number of enquiries from local authorities concerning usage of the tool. In the first instance, users are encouraged to review the guidance provided within the tool on the ‘Introduction’ and ‘Important Notes’ tabs before using the tool.

To further assist, and acknowledging that due to the Covid-19 pandemic there are a number of atypical scenarios that local authorities experienced during their 2020 monitoring programme, we have prepared a short tutorial video, which provides a demonstration of how to use the tool and deal with a number of different input scenarios. A document of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) in relation to usage of the tool is also now available. Both the tutorial video and the FAQ document are available via the Air Quality Hub link below. Please note that local authorities are required to create a user account to access the Air Quality Hub before being able to access the material.

Access the Diffusion Tube Data Processing Tool Tutorial Video and FAQs via the Air Quality Hub

Covid-19 Supplementary Guidance for LAQM Reporting in 2021: Webinar Feedback

Thank you to all local authorities that have provided feedback on the LAQM Webinar: COVID-19 Supplementary Guidance for LAQM Reporting in 2021, which was held on Wednesday 28th April 2021 on behalf of Defra and the GLA. As a reminder, the webinar and accompanying Questions and Answers document are available for viewing via the Air Quality Hub link below.

Access the Webinar Recording and Q&A via the Air Quality Hub

We will soon be closing the short user feedback survey, to allow those that attended the webinar or have since accessed the webinar materials to provide feedback. We welcome all feedback provided and, depending upon your answers, this should take no more than 5 minutes to complete. The responses to this survey will be used to inform future LAQM webinars and address any outstanding topics in relation to the Covid-19 Supplementary Guidance for LAQM Reporting in 2021. Please provide any feedback by Friday 18th June.

Provide Webinar Feedback

18 May 2021

The 2021 LAQM Report Templates have been updated to clarify the data capture criteria for the requirement of annualisation. In line with Technical Guidance LAQM.TG(16) and LLAQM.TG19, the minimum data capture required to undertake annualisation is 25% (i.e. there must be a minimum of three months monitoring data available within the calendar year). Therefore, annualisation should be completed if the data capture for the calendar year is less than 75% but 25% or greater. Please note, this has required revision to the 2021 reporting templates only. If using either the Diffusion Tube Data Processing Tool or the Annualisation Tool, based upon the user defined inputs these will automatically identify the requirement for annualisation in line with the criteria presented within Technical Guidance LAQM.TG(16) and LLAQM.TG19, as summarised above.

The updated 2021 templates are available from the Report Template page. In the event that the majority of reporting has already been drafted in the previously published 2021 reporting templates, please complete a ‘find and replace’ within the template to replace all instances of ‘33%’ relating to annualisation with ‘25%’. All completed reports should be submitted via the LAQM Portal in line with the 2021 reporting deadlines.

Apologies for any inconvenience caused.

The LAQM Support Helpdesk can be contacted for further advice on any of the above matters.

5 May 2021

Thank you to those that participated in the LAQM Webinar: COVID-19 Supplementary Guidance for LAQM Reporting in 2021, which was held on Wednesday 28th April 2021 on behalf of Defra and the GLA. We hope you found the session helpful in outlining the requirements for this reporting year.

For those who wish to recap over the session or were unfortunately unable to attend, the webinar was recorded and is available for viewing via the Air Quality Hub link below. Please note that local authorities are required to create a user account to access the Air Quality Hub before being able to access the recording. A written copy of the Question and Answers asked and responded to during the session and a short feedback survey is also available via this link.

Access the Webinar Recording, Q&A and Feedback Survey via the Air Quality Hub

The responses to the feedback survey will be used to inform future LAQM webinars and address any outstanding topics in relation to the Covid-19 Supplementary Guidance for LAQM Reporting in 2021.

As a reminder, the LAQM Support Helpdesk can be contacted for further advice on any of the above matters.

15 April 2021

LAQM Reporting Templates

The 2021 LAQM USA Reporting Template for local authorities in Northern Ireland is now available. Completed reports should be submitted via the LAQM Portal (see below for further information) in line with the reporting deadline of 30th June 2021.

14 April 2021

LAQM Reporting Templates

The 2021 LAQM Report Templates are now available. As per previous years, Regional Groups which include several authorities are able to submit combined reports.

Completed reports should be submitted via the LAQM Portal (see below for further information) in line with the relevant reporting deadlines:

  • England (not London) ASR – 30th June 2021
  • London ASR – 31st May 2021
  • Scotland APR – 30th June 2021
  • Wales APR – 30th September 2021
  • Northern Ireland USA – 30th June 2021 (template to be published shortly)

In terms of new reporting requirements for this year, each template includes a section relating to COVID-19 impacts on LAQM. Completion of this section is encouraged for all local authorities. There is also a new mandatory requirement for local authorities in England (excluding London boroughs) to submit their NO2 diffusion tube data to the LAQM Portal via the new DTDES upload facility. This submission should be completed once all monitoring data for 2020 has been processed.

Local authorities are reminded to check that their AQMA and contact details are up to date as part of the report submittal process and update as necessary.

Covid-19 Supplementary Guidance for LAQM Reporting in 2021

As a result of impacts from COVID-19 and the associated restrictions on activity, supplementary guidance has been published to inform local authorities in England of the key changes and points of reference with respect to LAQM duties, as described in Part IV of the Environment Act 1995, for the 2021 reporting year.

This supplementary guidance, which should be read in conjunction with LAQM Technical Guidance LAQM.TG(16), has been informed by responses from the impact survey received following the release of the interim statement on COVID-19 impacts to the LAQM regime. It addresses various aspects related to local authority duties under the LAQM regime; in particular, it is provided to assist local authorities in England in completing their ASRs.

LAQM Webinar: Covid-19 Supplementary Guidance for LAQM Reporting in 2021

Date: Wednesday 28th April 2021

Time: 11:30 – 12:45, online via Zoom

As a result of impacts from COVID-19 and the associated restrictions on activity, supplementary guidance has been published to inform local authorities in England (including London) of the key changes and points of reference with respect to LAQM duties, as described in Part IV of the Environment Act 1995, for the 2021 reporting year.

This webinar will provide English local authorities with an opportunity to discuss the COVID-19 Supplementary Guidance for LAQM Reporting in 2021.

Please submit any questions you may have in advance of the webinar via the LAQM Support Helpdesk. The webinar will be recorded and made available via the LAQM Support website for those unable to attend, with any further follow-up questions able to be asked via the LAQM Support Helpdesk. Invitations to attend the webinar will be sent out separately to local authorities in England.

Technical Guidance LAQM.TG16

An updated version of the LAQM Technical Guidance LAQM.TG16 is now available. This supersedes all previous versions. The full scope of the update, which includes items of clarification, are provided in TG16 Annex D: Log of Changes. Any questions regarding these changes should be directed to the LAQM Support Helpdesk.

Diffusion Tube Data Processing Tool

A new Diffusion Tube Data Processing Tool has been developed to assist local authorities in processing their NO2 diffusion tube monitoring data. It allows annual mean NO2 concentration results to be calculated from NO2 diffusion tube raw monthly data, by consolidating previous LAQM tools for processing diffusion tube monitoring data into a single tool. The tool includes steps to assist with:

  1. Annualisation – the process of estimating annual mean NO2 concentrations when data capture for the year is below 75%
  2. Bias Adjustment – the process of accounting for the variable accuracy of annual mean NO2 concentrations as measured by diffusion tubes relative to the chemiluminescent reference method
  3. Fall off with Distance Adjustment – the process of estimating an annual mean NO2 concentration at a receptor location that is close to a monitoring site
  4. Calculation of the Annual Mean Concentration

The tool serves to streamline the data processing requirements of NO2 diffusion tubes and improve the quality assurance associated with NO2 diffusion tube data processing. Through alignment of the output result tables with the annual reporting template requirements, the tool facilitates ease of population of the associated annual reporting data tables.

In addition, it provides an output table which can be directly uploaded into the LAQM Portal via the new Diffusion Tube Data Entry System (DTDES), which is part of the annual submission requirements for English local authorities (excluding London boroughs) – see above for more information.

Whilst the previous LAQM tools for processing diffusion tube data currently remain available for use, use of the new Diffusion Tube Data Processing Tool is strongly encouraged.

For further support on using the new Diffusion Tube Data Processing Tool, please contact the LAQM Support Helpdesk for assistance.

National Diffusion Tube Bias Adjustment Spreadsheet

The National Diffusion Tube Bias Adjustment Factors Spreadsheet March 2021 Update is now available.

We would like to thank all the local authorities who have already submitted their co-location study results. Local authorities can continue to return collocation studies for diffusion tubes for inclusion (pending data quality checks) in the next update which is due in June 2021.

Diffusion Tube Precision Summary

The diffusion tube precision summary results have been updated.

Two versions of precision summary results are provided; one detailing the full set of recorded precision results for all years and all laboratories, and a second reduced version containing only the last 3 years of recorded precision results for those laboratories that currently provide diffusion tube analysis.

Diffusion Tube QA/QC Framework

The latest summaries of participating laboratories’ performance in the AIR-PT scheme for NO2 diffusion tubes have been added and are now available.

10 March 2021

The Local Authorities who have been awarded funding from the Air Quality Grant Scheme for 2020 to 2021 has now been announced. Local authorities across England have been granted more than £5 million in government funding to deliver innovative projects to improve air quality. Further details including the local authority schemes receiving funding are detailed here.

2 February 2021

The latest summaries of participating laboratories’ performance in the AIR-PT scheme for NO2 diffusion tubes have been added and are available via the QA QC Framework Webpage.

27 January 2021

COVID-19: GUIDANCE FOR LOCAL AIR QUALITY MANAGEMENT REPORTING IN 2021 DUE TO COVID-19

This statement is for local authorities in England, including London, only. 

Defra wrote to local authorities on 27th January 2021 to make them aware of the guidance changes under consideration for Local Air Quality Management (LAQM) duties, described in Part IV of the Environment Act 1995, for the 2021 reporting year due to the impacts of COVID-19 and the associated restrictions on activity.

The purpose of the statement, contained in the attached letter, is to make you aware of the items under consideration, seek your views on the suggested approach and consider whether there are any additional areas we could address.

A copy of our correspondence is available here.

Local Authority Survey

To facilitate local authority consultation in relation to this statement, a short survey has been established. We would welcome your participation in this survey, which should take no longer than 15 minutes to complete. Responses will be used to inform final COVID-19 guidance. The consultation survey will remain open until 10th February 2021.

Please contact the LAQM Helpdesk if you are a local authority and wish to participate in this survey.

19 January 2021

FAQ8: ‘Where can I find information about Air Quality Monitoring Equipment Suppliers? has been updated and is now available here.

FAQ140: ‘Can I use a ‘Low Cost’ Sensor System for LAQM Reporting?’ has been added and is now available here.

18 January 2021

Deadline Extended – Local air quality management: public authorities call for evidence 

We are grateful for the responses we have received so far to the Call for Evidence on designation of Relevant Public Authorities which had a deadline of close today. Following a request for extension to the deadline and in light of the difficulties being experienced at the present time, we have decided to keep the Call for Evidence open until close on 25th January to give potential respondents a little more time.

2020 Updates

9 December 2020

UKAIR website – bringing on local automatic data

In the 2019 Clean Air Strategy Defra made a commitment to bring “local and national monitoring data together into a single accessible portal for information on air quality monitoring and modelling”. Defra have now launched a service on the UKAIR website where users of the site can access automatic data from both the nationally run networks and those run by local authorities. Around 80% of automatic data from local authorities has been included in this service where the data is already in the public domain.

The automatic data will be displayed as ‘locally managed automatic monitoring data” to make a clear distinction between the data sets. Users will be able to access the local automatic data in the same way they can the national data now, for example using the data download service for specific sites or looking at site locations on a network map.

To facilitate future locally-managed data sharing (even if there is no existing dedicated website resource) a dedicated API can be established from which data can be harvested. The documentation detailing the requirements for such an API is available on UKAIR. Data originators wishing to make their data available can create an API based on this specification and contact aqharvesting@ricardo.com for any guidance they should need.

2 December 2020

FAQ105: ‘Impacts of Vegetation on Urban Air Pollution’ has been updated and is now available here.

1 December 2020

FAQ41: ‘How effective are physical barriers alongside busy roads in reducing pollutant concentration at adjacent areas?’ has been updated and is now available here.

13 November 2020

The 2021 Diffusion Tube Monitoring Calendar, providing recommended exposure dates, is now available here.

5 October 2020

Local air quality management: public authorities call for evidence

We would like to draw your attention to a Call for Evidence launched by Defra on 5th October 2020.

Defra are seeking views and evidence, especially from Local Authorities, on which public authorities should be considered for designation by the Environment Secretary as ‘Relevant Public Authorities’ under a new power the Government intend to introduce through the Environment Bill, amending Part IV of the Environment Act 1995. A relevant public authority may then be required to co-operate with local authorities acting as an ‘Air Quality Partner’ within the Local Air Quality Management Framework.

We welcome responses from local authorities and potential relevant public authorities.

Detail:
Start date: 5 October 2020
End date: 18 January 2021

The CfE can be found via the Citizen space link: https://consult.defra.gov.uk/industrial-pollution-control/local-air-quality-management-call-for-evidence-des/

18 September 2020

2 September 2020

Local authorities in England can now apply for the Air Quality Grant Scheme 2020 to 2021. The scheme is dedicated to providing at least £2 million funding to English local authorities in support of the development and/or implementation of measures to improve local air quality.

In particular, Defra are looking for applications with projects designed to:

  • Provide air quality benefits soon (i.e. in next 1 to 2 years)
  • Develop solutions over the longer term by increasing awareness and encouraging behavioural change.

Applications must be received by midday on 14 October 2020.

Further information about the Air Quality Grant Scheme can be found after registering an interest on Defra’s Bravo online system.  Once registered you will be able to access the Invitation to Apply (ITA) document, which contains detailed information about the Air Quality Grant and Application process.

If you have any further queries about the Air Quality Grant Scheme that are not covered in the ITA, please log on to Bravo and use the secure messaging service to communicate with the Grant Authority and seek clarifications. The LAQM Helpdesk will be unable to answer questions about the application process.

27 August 2020

A minor update to the Emissions Factors Toolkit has taken place on 27 August 2020.

An updated version of the Emissions Factors Toolkit (EFT v10.1) is now available. Details of all the changes implemented between v10.0 and v10.1 are provided in the  EFT User Guide (PDF, 0.8MB, 41 pages). Briefly, the changes between v10.0 and 10.1 are as follows:

  • Updated f-NO2 values based on the latest available ‘Primary NO2 Emission factors for road transport (2020 version)’ from the National Air Emissions Inventory (NAEI); and
  • A Minor bug fix relating to calculation of primary fraction of NO2 from buses in London.
  • Neither of these updates will impact pollutant emissions outputs of v10.0, changes will only be observed between v10.0 and v10.1 when using the f-NO2 tool.

Users of the updated LAQM tools should be aware that the projections in the 2018 reference year background maps, EFT v10.1 and associated tools are based on assumptions which were current before the Covid-19 outbreak in the UK. In consequence these tools do not reflect short or longer term impacts on emissions in 2020 and beyond resulting from behavioural change during the national or local lockdowns.

19 August 2020

A number of updates have taken place on 19 August 2020. Please follow the links below for more information:

A full list of LAQM Tools is available here.

Users of the updated LAQM tools should be aware that the projections in the 2018 reference year background maps, EFT v10.0 and associated tools are based on assumptions which were current before the Covid-19 outbreak in the UK. In consequence these tools do not reflect short or longer term impacts on emissions in 2020 and beyond resulting from behavioural change during the national or local lockdowns.

12 August 2020

Local Air Quality Management during the COVID-19 Outbreak: Update

This advice provides an update on the LAQM joint statement issued on 19 June 2020.

  • Diffusion Tube and Continuous Monitoring

Local authorities and boroughs should now follow advice issued individually by Defra, the Devolved Administrations and the Greater London Authority.

  • Diffusion Tube Availability

Normal service has resumed at all laboratories. Local authorities should continue to follow any specific guidance on tube return and handling issued by providing laboratories.

03 July 2020

Following their call for evidence in April the Defra Air Quality Experts Group (AQEG) have now published their report into changes in air pollution during the Covid-19 outbreak. The report is available here:

https://uk-air.defra.gov.uk/library/reports.php?report_id=1005

01 July 2020

  • The National Diffusion Tube Bias Adjustment Factors Spreadsheet June 2020 Update is now available. This provides for the second round of National Diffusion Tube Bias Adjustment Factors for 2019 diffusion tube monitoring data. We would like to thank all the local authorities who submitted co-location study results. Local authorities can continue to return co-location studies for diffusion tubes for inclusion (pending data quality checks) in the next update which is due in September 2020.

19 June 2020

Local Air Quality Management during the COVID-19 Outbreak: Update

This advice has been agreed between Defra, the Devolved Administrations and the Greater London Authority and is addressed to all UK local authorities and the London boroughs. It provides an update on the previous joint statement issued on 22 May 2020.

  • Diffusion Tube Monitoring

Local authorities should continue their monitoring work where possible. For the July and August diffusion tube exposure dates on 1 July 2020 and 29 July 2020 local authorities should continue to adopt a flexible and risk-based approach to their monitoring work. This recognises the need to maintain social distancing at all times, avoid public transport, and also acknowledges that some local authorities will be continuing to work with constrained resources due to Covid-19.

  • Diffusion Tube Availability

While all laboratories providing diffusion tube services have now resumed operations, some are working with limited capacity. Local authorities should continue to follow any specific guidance on tube return and handling issued by providing laboratories.

  • Further Updates

A further update will be provided in advance of the September diffusion tube exposure date.

12 June 2020

A number of updates have taken place on 12 June 2020. Please follow the links below for more information.

22 May 2020

Local Air Quality Management during the COVID-19 Outbreak: Update

This advice has been agreed between Defra, the Devolved Administrations and the Greater London Authority and is addressed to all UK local authorities and the London boroughs. It provides an update on the previous joint statement issued on 08 April 2020.

Diffusion Tube Monitoring:

Local authorities should continue their monitoring work where possible. The next diffusion tube exposure date is scheduled for 3 June 2020. In line with the advice issued on 8 April local authorities and boroughs should continue to apply a flexible approach to maintaining their diffusion tube monitoring networks. This recognises that resource and diffusion tube stock constraints, as well as ongoing social distancing requirements, will impact on individual authority’s and borough’s ability to expose and collect tubes. The importance of avoiding public transport while undertaking LAQM related tasks is emphasised. The July exposure date will be reviewed in mid June.

Diffusion Tube Availability:

On 8 April 2020 we advised that a number of laboratories offering diffusion tube preparation and analysis services had closed or were operating at greatly reduced capacity. At present this situation remains largely unchanged. It is important that clear and accurate records are maintained for tubes and sites impacted by a shortage of deployable tubes.

15 April 2020

Defra would like to draw attention to the following call for evidence on the impacts of Covid-19 on air pollution in the UK. The call has been issued by the Defra Air Quality Expert Group.

https://uk-air.defra.gov.uk/news?view=259

Local authorities are encouraged to consider responding to the call but this should only be in circumstances where they have the resource available to do so.

09 April 2020

A number of updates have taken place on 09 April 2020. Please follow the links below for more information.

  • The 2020 LAQM Report Templates are now available. As per previous years, Regional Groups which include several authorities are able to submit combined reports. Completed reports should be submitted via the RSW system in line with the relevant report submission deadlines. Local authorities are reminded to read all ‘blue box’ instructions for completing their reporting templates, and also check that their AQMA details are up-to-date as part of the report submittal process and update as necessary. This will reduce the likelihood of report submittals being rejected.

08 April 2020

Local Air Quality Management during the COVID-19 Outbreak

This advice has been agreed by Defra, the Devolved Administrations and the Greater London Authority and is addressed to all UK local authorities and the London boroughs.

The UK and devolved Governments have recently strengthened advice on implementing a regime of strict “Social Distancing”, home working and minimising all but the most essential travel, in order to reduce the risks of exposure and to minimise the spread of the virus. The following advice provides for the current position in relation to the possible impacts that the on-going Covid-19 pandemic may have on your LAQM statutory responsibilities described in Part IV of the Environment Act 1995.

Personal Concerns and Preferences:

In line with Government advice, the safety and well-being of individuals is an absolute and the foremost consideration. Where possible therefore, whilst we welcome a continued effort by local authorities and the boroughs to continue to perform routine LAQM tasks, this should not in any way compromise this absolute. We understand that local authority and borough policy and personal concerns around Covid-19 will also influence the ability to complete these tasks during this period.

Diffusion Tube Monitoring:

Local authorities and boroughs should continue with their monitoring work where possible. However, where it is not safe to do so, or if resource needs to be deployed elsewhere, there will be no expectation that local authority officers will collect or expose diffusion tubes in line with the 2020 Diffusion Tube Monitoring Calendar on 1 April 2020 and 29 April 2020. A decision on the June exposure date will be taken and communicated in early May.

Diffusion Tube Storage:

Some laboratories will either be closing or running a reduced service provision over the coming weeks. Therefore, if your preparation/testing laboratory remains open and is able to operate in a way where dispatch and receipt of exposed tubes remains unaffected, then please continue to return tubes to your provider for analysis accordingly. If the status of your provider remains uncertain, or they are known to be temporarily closed, exposed tubes should be stored within a sealed container or a zip-locked bag in a refrigerator, until such a time that the provider indicates it is ready to recommence operations. Any specific guidance issued by your providing laboratory should be followed with respect to tube return, and standard good practice in relation to hand sanitisation should be followed at all times during handling.

Diffusion tubes typically have a 3 to 4 month shelf life, therefore in circumstances where tubes need to be refrigerated we hope that the samples could still be analysed by the laboratory without compromising the quality of the sample. We strongly advise that local authorities and boroughs keep clear and accurate records on the tubes impacted by these arrangements to manage Covid-19, such that close attention can be paid to the quality of the data gathered.

Continuous Monitoring:

Local authorities and boroughs should continue with their monitoring work where possible. The continued provision of quality data from continuous instruments will be an important source of information for the public while Covid-19 restrictions are in place. However, only essential work to ensure integrity of the data should continue, and only where this is safe to do so.

Instrument calibrations and filter exchanges (gaseous and particulate matter instruments): regular calibrations are important for quality assurance and need to be maintained at a regular frequency. Currently, the national network has extended any fortnightly calibrations to a monthly frequency and this should now be adopted by local authorities where fortnightly calibration regimes are currently in place. It may be that an extended period of time between calibrations of up to 3 months could still provide for good quality data and this may be an option for local authorities to consider.

Travel to and from sites: much of the site work is undertaken through the use of private vehicles and this can continue as normal. Where public transport is used individuals should consider government guidance on the use of alternatives and varying travel times to avoid rush hour where possible to reduce the risks of exposure to Covid-19.

Site hygiene and personal hygiene: it is recommended that local authorities continue to maintain the cleanliness of sites in accordance with normal practices. When attending sites, individuals should follow guidelines provided by the Chief Medical Officers for England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, namely: regular washing of hands or use of sanitiser gels, or the use of gloves whilst undertaking duties at site.

A few sites will deliver a dual role as both a local authority site and an affiliate to the National monitoring network. In such cases, you will already have had guidance from the Environment Agency and any questions related to data capture risks should be directed to the Environment Agency

LAQM Reporting:

Updated reporting templates, associated guidance and tools in relation to the 2020 LAQM statutory reporting responsibilities will be published to the LAQM website shortly. An email communication to accompany the publication will be issued to all registered LAQM users.

The submission deadlines for Annual Status Reports, Annual Progress Reports and Progress Reports remain unchanged. Please contact the relevant authority with the LAQM Helpdesk in copy if you anticipate any difficulties meeting your deadline. Flexibility is available if any local authority or borough will struggle to meet their deadline due to redeployment or other Covid 19 impacts.

Keeping Records:

Where possible, we encourage local authorities and boroughs to keep clear and accurate records of those LAQM tasks which have been impacted by Covid-19.

LAQM Helpdesk:

The LAQM Helpdesk continues to operate as normal and is your first point of contact for business as usual LAQM queries and any LAQM queries connected to Covid-19. At certain times of day you may experience a short delay before your call is answered. The LAQM Helpdesk will also continue to respond to queries by email promptly.

07 April 2020

We are experiencing an intermittent issue with the LAQM Support telephone line, which we expect to be resolved shortly. In the meantime, the LAQM Helpdesk can be contacted in the usual manner via the dedicated email address, whereby we will be happy to call you back to discuss any queries. Apologies for any inconvenience caused.

2019 Updates

16 December 2019

The Environment Agency is setting up a new national air quality monitoring network (the ‘UK Urban NO2 Network’; UUNN) to allow the national UK compliance assessment to better reflect local NO2 levels.

This is part of a wider programme of work led by Defra to develop and improve our approach to assessing national NO2 compliance against the Ambient Air Quality Directive (2008/50/EC), in order to better reflect local NO2 levels.

Additional roadside NO2 measurements will be delivered through the nationally coordinated UUNN monitoring network via diffusion tubes with a centralised QA/QC procedure designed to meet the stringent requirements of the national compliance assessment. Measurements will be subject to stricter QA/QC procedures than the recommendations in the LAQM Technical Guidance 16 (TG.16). Modified diffusion tubes enhanced with filters will be used to reduce the effects of wind turbulence, and temperature effects on uptake rates will be taken into account. The net benefit of this approach is to achieve improvements in uncertainty at the UUNN sites. The bias of the modified diffusion tubes will be appraised through network-specific co-location studies with Automatic Urban and Rural Network (AURN) NOx/NO2 analysers.

UUNN roadside NO2 measurements will initially be focused in areas where local authorities have worked with the Defra / Department for Transport Joint Air Quality Unit or the Devolved Administrations to implement local measures in 2020 and 2021. The network will become operational in two phases, in January 2020 and in January 2021.

We are committed to incorporating local data within the network where possible, and an affiliation process will be established to facilitate this. More details of the affiliation process will be provided in due course.

These new network NO2 measurements will be made publicly available as part of the national NO2 compliance assessment.

Queries about the network should be directed to uun.network@bureauveritas.com.

26 November 2019

The latest summaries of participating laboratories’ performance in the AIR-PT scheme for NO2 diffusion tubes have been added and are available via the QA QC Framework Webpage.

6 November 2019

The 2020 Diffusion Tube Monitoring Calendar, providing recommended exposure dates, is now available here.

16 October 2019

The 2019 update of the London Local Air Quality Management Framework (LLAQM) has now been published and is available here.

The 2019 Framework includes a number of revised sections such as updates on the Cleaner Air Borough Status and updates to the LLAQM guidance documents.

15 October 2019

FAQ 138 is now published and describes the method of diffusion tube bias adjustment for local authorities, where there has been a change in supplier/preparation method during the course of a monitoring year.

Please contact the Helpdesk should you require any clarification.

09 October 2019

Local authorities in England can now apply for the Air Quality Grant Scheme 2019 to 2020. The scheme is dedicated to providing at least £2 million funding to English local authorities in support of the development and/or implementation of measures to improve local air quality.

In particular, Defra are looking for applications with projects designed to:

  • Provide air quality benefits soon (i.e. in next 1 to 2 years); and/or
  • Develop solutions over the longer term by increasing awareness and encouraging behavioural change.

The grant is competitive, with priority given to local authorities that have identified and/or projected exceedances reported in line with the national assessment of air quality, and/or that have one or more Air Quality Management Areas (AQMAs).

Applications must be received by midday on 07 November 2019.

Further information about the Air Quality Grant Scheme can be found after registering an interest on Defra’s Bravo online system.  Once registered you will be able to access the Invitation to Apply (ITA) document, which contains detailed information about the Air Quality Grant and Application process.

If you have any further queries about the Air Quality Grant Scheme that are not covered in the ITA, please log on to Bravo and use the secure messaging service to communicate with the Authority and seek clarifications. You must state in your clarification message if you do not want the message to be made public to other Applicants. Any queries received through other means will be redirected to use the secure messaging facility on Bravo.

If you have any further questions on this year’s Air Quality Grant, please contact air.quality@defra.gov.uk directly.

17 September 2019

A number of updates have taken place on 17 September 2019. Please follow the links below for more information.

  • The National Diffusion Tube Bias Adjustment Factors Spreadsheet September 2019 Update is now available. We would like to thank all the local authorities who submitted co-location study results. This concludes the final round of National Diffusion Tube Bias Adjustment Factors for 2018 diffusion tube monitoring data released within 2019. The next update, which will incorporate diffusion tube monitoring data for 2019, is due March 2020 (Round 1 of 3). Local Authorities can return co-location studies for participating diffusion tubes completed within 2019 for inclusion (pending data quality checks) in the next update using the following questionnaire.
  • The summary of NO2 Diffusion Tube precision information has also been updated here.
  • The latest summaries of participating laboratories’ performance in the AIR-PT scheme for NO2 diffusion tubes have been added and are available via the QA QC Framework Webpage.

27 June 2019

A number of updates have taken place on 27 June 2019. Please follow the links below for more information.

  • The National Diffusion Tube Bias Adjustment Factors Spreadsheet June 2019 Update is now available. We would like to thank all the local authorities who submitted co-location study results. Local authorities can continue to return co-location studies for diffusion tubes for inclusion (pending data quality checks) in the next update which is due in September 2019.
  • The summary of NO2 Diffusion Tube precision information has also been updated here.