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Environmental Situation
Air Quality Assessment
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Bristol

Background Information
Bristol is a historic trading port with central parts at sea level. The city rises upwards in nearly every direction. On cold, clear winter days dispersion can be poor and emissions are trapped in the central  bowl of the city.

For the last 60 years Bristol has striven to improve air quality. First controlling smoke and sulphur dioxide from coal burning in the 1950's and 60's, restricting pollutants such as lead and fluoride from industry in the 1970's and 80's and from then till now controlling pollution from road vehicles.

The UK Government introduced strategic air quality management with the National Air Quality Strategy in 1997. This placed a duty on local authorities to measure and report on air quality and to declare an Air Quality Management Area (AQMA) and publish an Air Quality Action Plan for those areas where air quality did not meet objectives. When that system was developed the Government assumed that only small parts of urban areas would not comply with the standards. Subsequent monitoring in all major UK cities has shown that much larger areas are non-compliant.

Bristol City Council (BCC) is further constrained by the fact that local powers and controls on emissions from traffic are limited. BCC only manages part of the road network in the West of England sub-region and relies on Government finance for major transport improvements. Despite that, BCC is actively managing air quality in the city.


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