Air Quality in Norwich just got worse

23 October 2018

Greens are raising the alarm that despite much concern in Norwich about the risks to health from poor air quality, key pollutants increased in the latest annual monitoring report from Norwich City Council (1).  There are two key areas of concern in the report which is for 2017:

(A) The level of PM2.5 particles in the City Centre at Castle Meadow is the highest for 7 years (2).

(B) The level of nitrogen dioxide (NO2), the key pollutant from diesel vehicles, increases in several places around the city where levels are already high and breaching the legal levels in the EU Air Quality Directive (3). 

Both PM2.5s and NO2 are well established by medical experts to contribute together to over 40,000 premature deaths from pollution in the UK each year.   Both are produced from road transport, and a significant proportion of particulates is also produced in winter from wood burning stoves (4).

Councillor Denise Carlo says:

 “It is worrying that levels of both particulates and nitrogen dioxide increased at key sites in the City in 2017.  Both are dangerous to health, particularly for the young and elderly.  Traffic pollution produces both these pollutants, and the council must radically reduce traffic, not just in the city centre but across the whole city area.  This means fast tracking much better public transport which Norwich has long needed.  For particulates, the council also needs to promote more sensible use of wood burning stoves across the city.”  

The Greens are also concerned that pollution is increasing, and is already high, in areas other than Castle Meadow and the city centre.  Councillor Carlo says:

“Air pollution problems in Norwich are not just restricted to the city centre.  We knew already that there were problems in the Anglia Square area, exposed as part of the recent planning application.  The latest data shows that levels of NO2 have increased nearby in St Augustines and near the top of Magdalen Street, and also upper King Street.  It is vital that levels are brought down to legal levels across the whole city as a matter of urgency.”



(1)    Under the Governments Local Air Quality Management (LAQM) guidelines, Councils have to report annually to DEFRA.  The latest Norwich report on 2017 monitoring is available at:

(2)    See graph below.  This is based on the graph on page 38 of Council’s report and shows the World Health Organisation current recommended level (note, there is no safe level of PM2.5):

Graph showing PM2.5 levels in Norwich 

(3)    Norwich City Council measure NO2 at 27 diffusion tube locations.  Graphs are shown below for some key locations where levels are already high.  The Greens acknowledge that some monitors have gone down – most of these are monitors which did not have the highest readings.  However, the concern is that the monitors with the existing highest levels have largely all increased in 2017. 

St Augustines – all four sites monitored increased in 2017, as below.  The bold red line for the monitor outside 52 St Augustines is close to residential property, and must be below 40 to meet the EU Directive. 

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