Local authorities (LAs) have a duty under Part IV of the Environment Act 1995 to review and assess the current, and likely future air quality in their areas. The first step of the review and assessment process is an updating and screening assessment (USA), which is to be undertaken by all LAs, every three years, to identify those matters that have changed since the last round was completed. Where LAs consider that one or more of the nationally prescribed air quality objectives for each of the seven pollutants is unlikely to be met by the relevant deadline, they must declare an air quality management area (AQMA), covering the area where the problem is expected. These LAs must then take action, along with other agencies and organisations, to work towards meeting the air quality objectives.
When the local air quality management system was first introduced in December 1997, LAs were advised to complete the review and assessment process by December 1999. My Department assessed Milton Keynes' air quality report in December 1999. The report concluded that further investigation was needed in respect of nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter (PM10). Following monitoring and modelling, Milton Keynes concluded from the additional work that they did not need to declare an AQMA.
The second round of reviews and assessments started in 2003 and LAs had to submit USAs by the end of May 2003, and were expected to submit either a detailed assessment or a progress report by April 2004 and April 2005 respectively. Milton Keynes submitted their USA in July 2003 and a Progress Report in both July 2004 and July 2005. They concluded that there was no need to proceed to a detailed assessment or declare an AQMA.
The third round of review and assessments has now started and local authorities were asked to submit new USAs by the end of April 2006. We received Milton Keynes' report in May 2006. Our consultants have assessed the report and agreed that there is no need for Milton Keynes to carry out further work in respect of any of the pollutants.