Monitoring Air Quality in Liverpool

Air pollution measurements and data from modelling are used to give us the best picture of air pollution across Liverpool.

In Liverpool, we have one urban background automatic monitoring station located in Speke. A number of air pollutants are monitored at this station including Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) and Particulate Matter. The NO2 data from this station is collected by Defra and is  accessed and used by the Council to validate data from the Passive Diffusion Tubes that monitor NO2 on a monthly basis across the city. The site is part of a national Automatic Urban and Rural Network (AURN).

Liverpool City Council (LCC) also monitors NO2 concentrations at 86 roadside locations across the city using monitors called Passive Diffusion Tubes which absorb nitrogen from the air. The tubes are changed monthly and analysed to provide an average NO2 concentration for the previous month.

The air quality monitoring system across Liverpool is under review and the City Council is planning to introduce more monitoring where needed to help inform action to improve air quality.

Air pollution modelling is also used to map air pollution concentrations. This helps us understand how air pollution varies across Liverpool, for example due to traffic or other pollution sources. Models can also take into account the strong influence of the weather on pollution.

Studies, called source apportionment studies, have been done to identify key sources of pollution. These studies use models to estimate which local activities (e.g. buses, HGVs, cars, rail, shipping, industry etc.) are responsible for the air pollution at a particular place, so that action can be taken. These studies show that traffic is the main cause of air pollution in Liverpool and that, overall, cars are the main contributor.

More information on air quality monitoring can be found on UK Air website

(Above) Urban monitoring station in Speke.

(Above) Passive diffusion tubes are often placed high on lampposts around the city.

Managing Air Quality in Liverpool

Like all Local Authorities, Liverpool is legally required to undertake Local Air Quality Management. This involves reviewing and assessing its air quality every year, to check that it will meet national air quality objectives for concentrations of different pollutants which are set to protect health. Where it is assessed that objectives will not be achieved, Local Authorities must declare an Air Quality Management Area (AQMA), and produce an action plan. Since 2008, Liverpool City Council has declared the whole of Liverpool as an Air Quality Management Area, as there are several locations across the city where air quality thresholds are not being met.

Although the whole of Liverpool has been declared as an AQMA, air quality varies across the city. Concentrations are higher along busy roads.

More information on Local Air Quality Management can be found on the Defra website at:

The latest annual status report for Liverpool is available on request.

In 2018, Defra modelling identified stretches of six of the city’s roads as having NO2 emissions which are predicted to exceed required concentrations by a mandatory deadline of 2020. The Council is exploring solutions for each of these locations, to achieve the accepted levels well in advance of the 2020 target date. The solutions needed for each location vary and are dependent on the main traffic sources in that location.

Liverpool City Council is working with partners across the City and Liverpool City Region to lower air pollution levels, and more work is needed. The Council’s actions and ambitions to improve air quality are set out in the Mayoral Inclusive Growth Plan, which can be seen at:

For news about ways LCC is working with partners across the city please click here.

Information for developers about air quality assessments

Where appropriate, developers have to consider the impact of their proposed development on air quality. If necessary, developers may have to appoint a consultant to undertake an Air Quality Assessment to look at the potential impact the development would have on existing air quality. Included within the assessment must be a baseline study which requires the latest monitoring data from Liverpool City Council (LCC) to be included and must take into account the most recent review and assessment reports.

Annual status reports are produced by LCC and are available under the 2005 Reuse of Public Sector Information (ROPSI) regulations at a cost of £168. If you wish to obtain any of these reports, please contact us.