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Glasgow revokes an AQMA

Air Quality

03 April 2020

One of Glasgow’s three air quality management areas (AQMAs) is to be revoked and a  second could be revoked next year. But the council says a low emission zone (LEZ) covering all vehicle types will be necessary to eliminate the third.

The AQMA approved for revocation last month covers Parkhead Cross, a junction of five roads in the city’s East End. The AQMA was declared in 2007 for nitrogen dioxide. Monitoring shows concentrations have been below 40μg/m3, the annual mean air quality objective, since 2014. 

The Byres Road/Dumbarton Road AQMA was declared in 2007 for NO2 and in 2016 for  particulate matter (PM10). PM10 concentrations have been below the 18μg/m3 annual mean objective level for several years. The AQMA is being amended to remove this pollutant. 

The last recorded NO2 exceedance in this AQMA was in 2017. “Policy guidance recommends a minimum of three years of monitored compliance before revoking an AQMA,” George Gillespie, Glasgow’s executive director of neighbourhoods and sustainability, told councillors. “If the monitoring trends continue it is expected that this AQMA could be eligible for complete revocation in 2021.”

This would leave just the city centre AQMA. During 2018, the council measured concentrations of NO2 above the annual mean objective at one city centre automatic monitoring station (61μg/m3) and seven diffusion tube sites (range of 41-63μg/m3).

The city centre AQMA broadly covers Glasgow’s LEZ introduced in December 2018. This currently only applies to buses but will be extended to all vehicles from the end of 2022. 

Asked if this was essential to revoking the AQMA, a council spokeswoman said: “Detailed modelling conducted by SEPA showed that, as the biggest single source of emissions of oxides of nitrogen, introducing the LEZ in a phased manner to improve bus compliance rates would provide the fastest method of reducing NO2 levels in the city centre. However, the modelling also clearly showed that an LEZ that only targeted scheduled bus services would not lead to sufficient reductions to meet the objectives throughout the AQMA.” 

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