Data shows air quality in Cardiff is improving compared with pre-COVID levels but work still to be done


The air quality data for 2022 shows that city's air is getting cleaner compared with pre-pandemic levels, although it accepted that there is more work to do in specific areas of the city.

The council has a variety of different air quality monitoring stations across the city that monitor a range of pollutants, including Nitrogen Dioxide(NO2)and very small particles of dust known as Particulate Matter (PM10and PM2.5). In law, legal limits are set for each pollutant and every local authority in Wales has a legal duty to monitor them and report their findings, along with mitigation measures, to Welsh Government every year.

The data shows that there were no breaches of air quality objectives at any of the monitoring sites during 2022 and although the levels are of NO2are slightly higher than in 2021, this is understandable due to the Covid restrictions that were in in place at that time.

Cardiff currently has four Air Quality Management Areas (AQMA's) in wards across the city.These areas have been highlighted as areas of concern, as the annual average of known pollutants have historically breached or were close to the legal limit.

The AQMA's are currently in place in the City Centre, Stephenson Court (Newport Road), Ely Bridge, and Llandaff. The latest data shows that air pollution in all the AQMA's in Cardiff continues to improve, and concentrations are below the legally permitted limit values forNO2.

Earlier this year, the council installed an additional 47 air quality monitoring stations across the city. The monitors were put into areas of the city where concerns about air quality have been highlighted. All 47 of these new monitoring stations show that to date in 2023 there haven't been any breaches of air quality standards at these locations, as set out in all relevant legislation. Shared Regulatory Services will shortly be publishing results from these additional monitoring locations on its website.

Cllr Dan De'Ath, Cabinet Member for Strategic Planning and Transport at Cardiff Council said: "Poor air quality is the largest environmental risk to public health in the UK and, after smoking, the second-biggest threat to public health. There is clear evidence to show that exposure to air pollution reduces life expectancy and significantly increases the risk of dying from heart disease, strokes, respiratory diseases, lung cancer and other conditions.

"In response to the challenges of air pollution, the council brought in a Clean Air Plan to reduce the levels of pollutants and improve air quality across the city. This focussed on bringing in electric buses for routes that run into the city centre, a bus retrofitting programme to reduce vehicle emissions from these vehicles, taxi mitigation measures, city centre transport improvements as well as our continued focus on improving cycling and walking routes.

"These measures have been installed or are continuing to be installed, with the latest news that any new hackney carriage licenses will only be issued to vehicles that have the latest EURO V1 engine or are hybrid or electric vehicles.

"The latest study into air pollution in Cardiff shows that residents enjoyed cleaner air across the city throughout 2022 when compared with pre-pandemic figures in 2019. Although this data is encouraging, there is more work to do. We need to continue to reduce the levels of pollutants. If we want people to be healthier, we must encourage people to be less reliant on their cars, and to make the shift to public transport, cycling or walking. Not only will it benefit people's health but will help the city reduce our carbon footprint as we look to combat climate change.

"Along with emissions from industry, vehicle emissions, especially from diesel vehicles are the highest-contributing factor to poor air quality in cities across the UK. To tackle the wider issue with the emissions from cars, the council has agreed to the principle of bringing in a road user charge, which will be a game changer, as people will have to make a more conscious effort whether they want to use their car or not. There will be extensive public consultation on this, and a series of measures will be introduced before any charge is implemented, including the introduction of £1 bus fares on key routes, better and expanded bus services, the delivery of the first phase of the Cardiff Crossrail and improvement to regional commuting. Themoney raised - alongside Government funding contributions - would be invested into Cardiff's public transport network."