Clear Northern skies
Mike Deathridge of Casella ETi explains two cases where local authorities are measuring air quality and reporting on their performance to the public
Wakefield District Council is currently producing the most detailed analysis of air quality data yet undertaken in the district. Surrounded by one of the busiest motorway networks in the country (the M62, the M1 and the A1M), close to three coal-fired power stations and in the path of the prevailing winds from the industrial north west, Wakefield has the potential to be exposed to high pollution levels.
To assess compliance with government limits on air pollution, the authority has, over the past five years, installed a series of eight air quality monitoring stations of various sizes and capacities, supplied by Casella ETi.
Permanently sited and mobile stations provide data on wind speed and direction, PM10 particulates, nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, sulphur dioxide, ozone, temperature and humidity, and atmospheric pressure. This data is then analysed before being displayed on a specially created website at www. airquality.net. The Council has recently installed reporting software Enview 2000, which enables the production of extremely detailed reports. Readings taken every 15 minutes at each location provide for multiple analyses to ensure an efficient and effective assessment of the air quality in the district.Display system
Meanwhile Doncaster Borough Council has installed a display system to keep members of the public informed about the air pollution levels in their locality. Believed to be the first of its type in the country, the scheme is part of the authority's Air Quality Management Plan, which is designed to give the public better access to data on all aspects of air pollution. The installation also revolves around Enview 2000, but features a free-standing public display system in a kiosk in the entrance to the Borough's Council House, rather than an internet system.
As well as being a powerful tool to record and analyse data from air quality stations, the system automatically transmits data to public display screens. As a result, the system has been programmed to take readings from the stations at 12-hour intervals and pass information to be displayed on a 19" high quality video screen in a robust aluminium kiosk.
Doncaster chose a system with one main screen depicting the locations of each of the monitoring stations, combined with a single graph for all five stations displaying local levels of NOx and PM10 particulates over the previous 24 hours. Individual screens show readings for each station. The system also scrolls from site to site with close up digital maps and a digital picture of the site and its pollution levels.Keeping communities informed
Executive director of neighbourhood services Paul Hart says: "We're always ready to try new initiatives to keep our communities informed about our services. This system is helping us to remain at the forefront of environmental work." Casella ETi's Cameron Stathers says: "We believe Doncaster is the first local authority to use the system in this manner, and as far as we know it is the first local authority to present air quality information to the public in this way." However, the Tyne and West Pollution Group recently used Enview 2000 technology to launch a dedicated website containing pollution information from across the wide area it covers, available to anybody who cares to currently log on at http://enviweb.sunderland.ac.uk.