Pollution and Air Quality

Improving Air Quality In Derbyshire

We all contribute to air pollution in Derbyshire by lighting a log burner, driving a car to a local shop or taking the kids to school. For people with conditions like asthma, lung disease and some allergies, high levels of air pollution can quickly make their breathing worse, and irritate the eyes, nose and throat. But over the years, it can affect everyone, contributing to things like lung cancer, strokes and heart disease.

It’s hard to think that something we can’t see and touch can be harmful to our health. Well over 60% of the two most harmful emissions come from road transport. Even in rural Counties like Derbyshire, standing traffic can cause hot spots of poor air quality.

There are lots of ways we can all help to reduce air pollution in our communities:

  • More than half of car trips are under 5 miles and 1 in 4 cars at peak times are on the school run. Why not make a pledge to leave the car at home just one day a week. Use your feet, bus or car share, or why not consider an e-bike?
  • Switching your engine off when stationary is a simple way everyone can reduce air pollution particularly in residential areas.
  • Electric vehicles can play a role in reducing air pollution and save money. Why not look at alternative fuels when you next invest in a new car?
  • Save using the wood burner for when it’s absolutely necessary.

Together with one small change at a time we can all help to improve air quality in our neighbourhoods. If you want to know more about air quality in Derbyshire, what is happening locally and what you, your family, school or business can do, you can visit the Derbyshire County Council website (opens in a new window) or the clean air day website. (opens in a new window)

Air quality management areas

The Environment Act 1995 requires local authorities to review local air quality against a specific list of potential pollutants.

The review is carried out in stages. Erewash completed the third stage review in December 2000. This identified an area of the borough immediately to the east of the M1 motorway in Sandiacre and Long Eaton where the target levels set for nitrogen dioxide were likely to be exceeded. As a result, two Air Quality Management Areas (AQMA's) were declared. It was then determined that the nitrogen dioxide was due to the M1 traffic and local traffic on minor roads was not significant. Also there were no significant inputs from large industrial plants, power stations etc.

An Air Quality Action Plan was drawn up to reduce pollution levels to below the target concentration. The M1 motorway is under the control of the Highways Agency and they had plans in place for a widening scheme designed to smooth traffic flows. This was completed in 2011 and increased the number of lanes to 4 in each direction and variable speed limits to ease congestion at peak times.

Following completion of the widening scheme a real-time pollution monitoring station was installed for 12 months. These revealed that there was no excess of nitrogen dioxide throughout the Borough, including within the existing AQMAs.

A further real time monitoring exercise is currently in progress. The aim of this monitoring is to provide data to support the revoking the AQMAs.

Local authorities are required to submit annual air quality status reports to DEFRA. Reports can be requested by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Dark Smoke

It is an offence to emit dark smoke from any trade or industrial premises or to emit dark smoke from the burning of trade or industrial waste. The emission of dark smoke is a strict offence and can be immediately prosecuted in the Magistrates' Court to a maximum of £20,000 per offence. An officer does not need to see the emissions of dark smoke to take action. Evidence of burnt materials that could cause dark smoke, such as steel reinforcement from tyres, or plastic residues is sufficient.

The darker the smoke, the more polluting it tends to be. Smoke darker than a specified shade of grey is officially classified as 'dark smoke'. A Ringlemann chart is used to define dark smoke. The chart has five shades of grey with 0 being clear and 5 being black. Smoke is considered 'dark' if it has a shade of 2 or darker. Using the Ringelmann chart is the British Standard method of assessment (BS 2742C - 1957 and BS 2742 2009).

Dark smoke emission must be prevented from-

  • Chimneys serving furnaces, fixed boilers or industrial plants, whether they are attached to buildings or not;

  • Any industrial or trade premises.

Waste produced during the course of normal business activity must be disposed of in an appropriate manner. Waste disposal by burning is not permitted and will be referred to The Environment Agency.