Find out about air quality in Swindon

Local authorities are required by law to identify local air quality problems and to take action to tackle them.

Air quality has improved significantly in recent decades. Since 1970 sulphur dioxide emissions have decreased by 95%, particulate matter by 73%, and nitrogen oxides by 69%. Total UK emissions of nitrogen oxides fell by a further 19% between 2010 and 2015. However, poor air quality persists in certain areas of the country and continues to affect human health and our environment.

The Government is currently developing a Clean Air Strategy that will set out how it intends to meet our international commitments to significantly reduce emissions of five damaging air pollutants by 2020 and 2030. The pollutants and their main sources in the UK are:

Pollutant Main source
Nitrogen oxide (NO2) Diesel light duty vehicles (cars and vans) are the largest source of  nitrogen dioxide emissions
Particulate matter (PM10) Much of the PM in urban pollution hotspots, particularly those close to roads, can come from traffic sources
Sulphur dioxide 46% of total sulphur dioxide emissions come from the power generation sector
Non-Methane Volatile Organic
Compounds (NMVOCs)
Industry, both large and small, is responsible for 71% of VOC emissions
Ammonia (NH3) Farming is the biggest source of ammonia emissions (81%)

Further information on air quality is available in this Government document (March 2017). In May 2017, the Government published the UK’s plan for reducing roadside nitrogen dioxide concentrations.

Air quality management areas

Local authorities are responsible for managing air quality, working with local stakeholders. We review and assess air quality in our area to determine whether we are likely to achieve the targets set out by Government.

If we think we will not meet a target, we have to declare an air quality management area (AQMA) covering the part of the borough where the problem lies. We must then draw up an air quality action plan stating how we will aim to meet the targets, consulting neighbouring local authorities, businesses, local people, the Highways Agency, the Environment Agency and others.

In a paper agreed by Swindon Borough Council’s Cabinet in February 2018, Kingshill Road area was declared an air quality management area (AQMA). This was because regular monitoring of Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) in this location, the most common pollutant, indicates that this location is currently in breach of the annual average air quality objective of 40μg/m3.

An Air Quality Management Steering Group has been established to develop and oversee the implementation of the air quality action plan for Swindon along with working to improve air quality across the borough. The Council will formally consult on a draft Action Plan later in 2018.

Over half of all local authorities in England have declared AQMAs. This interactive map shows where they are across the UK and which local authorities have declared AQMAs.

If you would like further information about the work of the Air Quality Management Steering Group, please contact

Report an air quality issue

If you would like to report a problem with air quality management in Swindon, please see the Tell us about an air quality problem webpage.

Last updated: 19 July 2018. Was this information helpful?

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