Nearly two thousand locations across England, Wales and Northern Ireland breaching air pollution limits

Press release
A data audit* by Friends of the Earth has revealed the 1,758 sites across the England, Wales and Northern Ireland that have breached the annual Air Quality Objective for Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) levels, which is set to protect health.
  Published:  27 Feb 2019    |      2 minute read

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High levels of NO2 can cause a flare up of asthma or symptoms such as coughing and difficulty breathing. A leading cause of NO2 pollution is emissions from road traffic.

With toxic air above limits affecting huge swathes of the UK, Friends of the Earth is campaigning for Clean Air Zones to be rolled out in far more places than are currently being planned, supported by measures such as improved infrastructure to support safe cycling and walking. This would see fewer polluting vehicles on our roads and would ultimately improve public health. Removing such vehicles would also contribute to reducing carbon emissions and fighting climate change.

Simon Bowens, clean air campaigner at Friends of the Earth, said:

“It’s unforgivable that across the UK there are nearly two thousand locations over air quality limits, leaving millions of us breathing dangerously polluted air.

“Air pollution is often an issue thought of as affecting only the biggest cities. The reality is that unacceptably toxic air can be found across much of the UK, even in smaller towns. It is harming the health of people across the country and is especially bad for young children whose lungs are still developing.

“The government needs to step up and do more to help deal with this air pollution crisis – they can’t just carry on leaving the difficult decisions with local authorities, many of which are severely under-resourced.”

UK locations ranked by annual average level of NO2 (in ug/m3) - the Objective is 40ug/m3:

  1. Earls Court Station, Kensington & Chelsea, London – 129.5
  2. Junction North Circular Rd / Chartley Avenue, Brent, London – 115.39
  3. IKEA, Hut, North Circular Road, Brent, London – 102.1
  4. Neville Street (NW Tunnel entrance), Leeds – 99
  5. Fir Tree Close, Hickleton, Doncaster – 96
  6. Kensington H St/Kensington Church St, Kensington & Chelsea, London – 94.5
  7. Euston Road, Camden, London – 92.45
  8. Strand, City of Westminster, London – 92
  9. High Street, Harlesden, Brent, London – 91.83
  10. Haddon Hall Tower Bridge Road, Southwark, London – 90.79

UK locations (outside of London) ranked by annual average level of NO2 (in ug/m3):

  1. Neville Street (NW Tunnel entrance), Leeds – 99
  2. Fir Tree Close, Hickleton, Doncaster – 96
  3. John O’Gaunts, Hickleton, Doncaster – 87
  4. Hennef Way, Banbury – 84.8
  5. Upper Stone Street, Maidstone – 79.3
  6. Market Hill, Maldon – 78.97
  7. North Street Clock Tower, Brighton – 77.9
  8. Platform 3A/2B, Sheffield – 77
  9. Neville Street (NE Tunnel entrance), Leeds – 76
  10. Holyhead Road, Coventry – 75.6

*Data has been accessed from the most recent local authority annual Air Quality Status Reports submitted to government. The results are all bias corrected, and distance-adjusted where appropriate. In some cases, this data is provisional and awaiting approval from DEFRA.