in the most deprived areas of the country must continue according to
a report published today by the Department of the Environment, Food
and Rural Affairs (DEFRA).
The report shows that in a number of urban areas of the UK the least
affluent members of society tend to be exposed to the highest levels
of air pollution.
Welcoming the report's publication, environment minister Michael
'Clean air is essential to quality of life. This research shows that
very often the most vulnerable members of society are exposed to the
highest levels of air pollution'
'Many of the measures that we already have in place to improve air
quality are starting to deliver real results in urban areas. The
number of days of poor air quality in urban areas has fallen steadily
over the last decade as emissions from road transport and industry
have fallen. As local authorities start introducing their air quality
action plans over the months ahead, we expect that these will deliver
further improvements to quality of life in the areas affected'.
Key findings of the report were that:
- In London, Birmingham and Belfast, the highest pollution levels
were generally found in the most deprived neighbourhoods.
- In Cardiff, the highest pollution levels were in affluent areas
near the city centre. Some central parts of London also have high
levels of pollution.
- Measures to improve air quality can therefore have a more
pronounced effect in deprived areas and could help to reduce this
1. Copies of the report ('Further Analysis of NO2 and PM10 Air
Pollution and Social Deprivation') are available via DEFRA's air
quality archive website .
2. The report analyses air pollution and social deprivation
datasets for four UK cities (London, Birmingham, Belfast and
Cardiff), and considers the spatial relationship between air
quality and social deprivation. It concludes that in three out of
the four cities (London, Birmingham and Belfast), there are clear
correlations between social deprivation and air pollution, with the
most deprived wards being also, for the most part, those where air
pollution levels tend to be highest. In Cardiff, the pattern is
3. The Air Quality Strategy for England, Scotland, Wales and
Northern Ireland, which sets out the air quality policies of the
Government and Devolved Administrations, can be downloaded from the
DEFRA website .
4. The government's 'New Commitment to Neighbourhood Renewal:
National Strategy Action Plan', published in August 2001, sets out
the Government's vision and goals for improving quality of life in
deprived neighbourhoods over the next 10-20 years. The Action Plan
includes a Public Service Agreement target to improve air quality
in the most deprived areas. Copies of the Action Plan are available
5. Where local authorities identify air pollution hotspots, they
are required to designate air quality management areas (AQMAs) and
draw up action plans setting out what they intend to do to improve
their local air quality. Of the four areas studied in the report,
London and Cardiff have already designated AQMAs, with Birmingham
expected to do so shortly.