Monitoring Environmental Performance
Level 5
Appendix 2
Discharges to Air

Air Pollution Legislation: A Brief Overview

It is beyond the scope of this module to review the legislation relating to atmospheric emissions in depth, although it would be useful here to provide you with an overview in order for you to see how monitoring is to relate to it.

Throughout history, there has been a recognition for the need to reduce air pollution, highlighted by an early identification during the middle of the nineteenth century of the damage that alkali producing company were having on the surrounding vegetation and the possible link to threats to human health. This led to the Alkali, etc Works Regulation Act 1863 (repealed) which called for drastic cuts in chemical emissions. It was not until the 1950s that the control of smoke emitted from factories was identified as harmful to human health, and the use of coal for domestic burning and controls upon industry was enforced by the Clean Air Act 1956 (repealed by the Clean Air Act 1993). More importantly, the Control of Pollution Act 1974, was the most significant piece of legislation to be introduced into the UK in terms of air pollution control.

Part IV of the Environment Act 1995 gives a framework for air quality management in which local authorities from 1/4/97 can make assessments of the air quality within their areas and to develop improvement plans where standards are not met.

Within the contemporary business climate and in society in general, there is now a widespread acknowledgement of the threat of the pollutants which are not visible such as odours, heavy metals, volatile organic compounds. The visible particulates, such as black smoke and odours, are invariably those which cause most problems on a day to day basis for sites due to the receipt of complaints from local residents.

The global implications of air pollution must also be understood. Whilst air pollution may be local, certain aspects may also be global, such a the depletion of the ozone layer through the use of ozone depleting substances during manufacture or in subsequent products. Here, international agreements must be signed, and the legislation adopted by the relevant countries such as the Kyoto Protocol and the Montreal protocol.

Companies are also asked to predict proposed emissions prior to the development of a new site under s.2 of the Environmental Impact Assessment of New Development regulations.

Integrated Pollution Control (IPC) as enforced by the Environmental protection Act 1990 (EPA 90), which is soon to be eclipsed by Integrated Pollution Prevention Control (IPPC) in October 1999 regulates processes which are heavy polluters. In terms of atmospheric emissions, Part A- the most heavily polluting are regulated by the Environment Agency (EA) and part B processes (those which have smaller, less polluting releases) are subject to local sir pollution control. (LAPC) by the local authority.