The Air Quality Strategy [PDF] published in 1997, established the framework for air quality improvements across the UK. Measures agreed at the national and international level are the foundations on which the strategy is based.
The strategy sets out the Air Quality Standards and Objectives which have been set in order to measure the improvement of air quality.
Latest up-to-date hourly measurements of air pollution are reported to the general public using an easy to understand 1-10 air pollution index system. The categories range from LOW to VERY HIGH air pollution with associated advice on health affects and what precautions may be taken to protect health.
The index is over a similar range to that used for the pollen and sunburn indices so is in a format which is recognisable by the public.
You will find details of the air pollution index here.
Local Air Quality Management
A system of Local Air Quality Management has been in place in the UK since 1997, with the overall aim of ensuring that the national air quality objectives will be achieved in all areas. In early 2009, the Technical and Policy Guidance Notes for LAQM [PDF] were updated and re-issued to ensure that all local authorities continue to follow best practice. Local Authorities are required to review their current air quality and assess whether any locations are likely to exceed the national objectives. If they identify areas of exceedence then one or more air quality management areas will need to be defined. Local authorities are encouraged to work together, and to consult with other local stakeholders to ensure that the process is carried out in a transparent fashion.