Air Pollution (including Environmental Permitting)

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In the last few years people have become more aware of the effects of air pollution on their health and well being. Air pollution arises from a number of different sources and can be natural or manmade. The Legal, Democratic & Regulatory Services Department plays an important role in measuring air pollution and this measurement has now been carried out over many years.

air pollution map


A large number of complaints are received, particularly during the summer, about domestic bonfires and commercial bonfires on building sites. There are no bye-laws controlling the times and frequencies at which bonfires are allowed. Complaints can be dealt with under the Environmental Protection Act legislation to prevent a statutory nuisance from bonfire smoke and ash.

If your neighbour causes a nuisance you can contact Regulatory Services and make a formal complaint. You will initially be asked to keep a record sheet over a 14 day period to record the dates, times and duration of the bonfires. The officer will use the information as the basis for further action by us. A record sheet can be downloaded by clicking on the links below.

Commercial bonfires or bonfires on construction sites are often of greater intensity and will affect a larger number of residents. For these reasons when an initial complaint is received every effort will be made to visit the complainant and the person having the bonfire at the time the bonfire is alight.

To make a complaint about bonfires please contact 


Telephone: 01727 819406 during normal office hours

Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire air pollution and monitoring network

In 1999 the Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire Air Pollution Monitoring Network was set up to co-ordinate the monitoring and reporting of air quality across the two counties. It was developed by the local authorities and Kings College London.

The network includes data from the networks 11 real-time analysers and more than 250 diffusion tubes and interpretation of the data. The network can be found at the Herts & Beds - Air Quality Network website.

The site includes daily, weekly, monthly data and the networks annual reports.

Passive diffusion tube monitoring

The department has approximately 43 monitoring sites to measure nitrogen dioxide levels across the district. Results are given for monthly periods and can be viewed by going to the Herts & Beds - Air Quality Network website (this site contains data for other Councils in Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire). Data for the current and past three years can be downloaded below:

Nitrogen dioxide

Nitrogen Dioxide is of potential concern to human health. At relatively low levels it can cause breathing difficulties and throat and eye irritation. At high concentrations more severe health effects may occur such as bronchitis. Nationally the two main sources of nitrogen dioxide are motor vehicles and power stations.

Air quality management

The Environment Act 1995 requires local authorities to regularly review and assess the quality of air within their areas, and to determine whether or not the air quality objectives are likely to be achieved.  Where exceedences are considered likely, the local authority must then declare an Air Quality Management Area (AQMA) and prepare an Air Quality Action Plan (AQAP) setting out the measures it intends to put in place in pursuit of the objectives.

There are currently 3 AQMAs in effect in the St Albans District Council area, all of which exhibited mean NO2 concentrations which exceeded the annual average Air Quality Objective (40μg∙m-3). Monitoring of NO2 throughout the district is done by means of diffusion tubes at approximately 40 sites, throughout the City of St Albans. In 2008, 11 sites recorded NO2 concentrations above the annual mean objective limit for NO2, In 2016, no sites indicated concentrations above the annual mean limit for NO2 following bias adjustment and distance correction.

The air quality action plan is a working document, therefore, if you would like to view the most up to date version please contact:

The latest Air Quality Annual Status Report (ASR) is available as a PDF document below:

Air Quality Reports Archive

To view previous Air Quality documents please visit our Archive Page.

Permitted Processes

The Government has introduced legislation to ensure that pollution levels are controlled or reduced. The Environmental Protection Act 1990 gives powers to Local Authorities to authorise certain polluting industries. Industries covered include petrol stations; coating, timber and rubber processing; metal working, quarrying, crematoria and heavy clay production.

These Authorisations contain instructions detailing how the process is to be run to control emissions to air. If the conditions within the authorisation are not followed, then the Council can serve notice and prosecute offending companies to ensure that they comply with the requirements of the law. Later this year the legislation will be extended to require companies to control emissions not just to air but also to land or water.

The PPC Regulations

The PPC Regulations introduce three separate, but linked, systems of pollution control:

  • Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control (IPPC), which covers installations known as A(1) installations, which are regulated by the Environment Agency;

  • Local Authority Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control (LA-IPPC) which covers installations known as A(2) installations, which are regulated by local authorities;

  • Local Authority Pollution Prevention and Control (LAPPC), which covers installations known as Part B installations, also regulated by local authorities.

All three systems require the operators of certain industrial and other installations to obtain a permit to operate. Once an operator has submitted a permit application, the regulator then decides whether to issue a permit. If one is issued, it will include conditions aimed at reducing and preventing pollution to acceptable levels. A(1) installations are generally perceived to have a greater to potential to pollute the environment than an A(2) installation, and Part B installations would have the least potential to pollute.

An installation is a "technical unit" where one or more industrial activities listed in Schedule 1 of the PPC Regulations are carried out. The Regulations also specify that an installation is any other location on the same site where directly associated activities that have a technical connection to the listed activity, which could have an effect on pollution. The activities are broadly divided into the relevant industrial sectors and categorised as Part A(1), A(2) or B activities. Where several listed activities from different parts of Schedule 1 are carried out in an installation, the installation will be permitted according to the "highest common denominator" i.e. if Part A(1), A(2) and B activities were carried out at an installation, it would be permitted as an A(1) installation and therefore by the Environment Agency. If Part A(2) and Part B activities were carried out at an installation, it would be permitted as an A(2) installation and be regulated by the local authority.

Part A(1) and A(2) installations

The IPPC and LA-IPPC systems apply an integrated environmental approach to the regulation of certain industrial activities. Regulators must set permit conditions which are based on the use of the 'Best Available Techniques' (BAT), which balances the cost to the operator against benefits to the environment. Regulators are required to set permit conditions for pollution to air, land and water, The PPC Regulations also include provisions relating to energy efficiency, site restoration, noise, odour, waste minimisation, environmental accident prevention and heat and vibrations.

The PPC Regulations apply to a wide range of activities, including food and drink manufacturers, large-scale intensive livestock production (pigs and poultry) and landfill.

Part B installations

As with A(1) and A(2) installations Regulators must set permit conditions which are based on the use of 'Best Available Techniques' (BAT). However these conditions extend only to emissions to air.

For further information and application forms please contact

Current fees can be found on the Defra document. .

Date of last review: 21 June 2019