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1993 - 2018

Air Quality Consultants recently celebrated 25 years of providing expert consultancy support.  The Company has grown to become the largest, specialist air quality consultancy in the UK, providing support to public and private sector clients.  Demand has grown considerably, and Air Quality Consultants now completes over 500 air quality projects a year, throughout the UK and internationally, from its offices in Bristol, London and Warrington. Set out below are some of the highlights of the first 25 years, both for air quality management in the UK and for Air Quality Consultants (AQC).

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May 1993

Air Quality Consultants Ltd set up

Air Quality Consultants Ltd is established on 4th May 1993.

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December 1993

Particulate matter exposure linked to increased mortality

Results of Six-City study in the US published, showing clear link between exposure to low levels of particulate matter and increased mortality. This research changes the face of future air pollution policy development.

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May 1995

Public inquiry into Terminal 5 at Heathrow Airportto Terminal 5 at Heathrow Airport

The inquiry into Terminal 5 at Heathrow Airport opens and lasts 525 days. Air quality is an important consideration. Duncan Laxen provides expert air quality evidence to the inquiry on behalf of the London Boroughs of Hillingdon and Hounslow.

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July 1995

Government publishes Environment Act 1995

The Environment Act 1995 sets the framework for the establishment of new regulatory agencies and for the Local Air Quality Management regime, in which local authorities are obliged to review and assess air quality and to take action when objectives are exceeded.

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April 1996

Environment Agency created

The Environment Agency is created under the framework of the Environment Act 1995, and takes over the roles and responsibilities of Her Majesty’s Pollution Inspectorate (HMIP) and the waste regulation authorities in England and Wales.

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May 1996

QUARG report on particulate matter in the UK published

The Quality of Urban Air Review Group publishes the first comprehensive review of Particulate Matter in UK Air. Both Duncan Laxen and Stephen Moorcroft contribute to the preparation of this report.

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November 1996

EC publishes Air Quality Framework Directive

Council Directive 96/62/EC on ambient air quality assessment and management describes the basic principles as to how member states should assess and manage air quality. Duncan Laxen is an invited expert at EC workshops helping develop the Directive.

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March 1997

UK National Air Quality Strategy published

The first UK National Air Quality Strategy is published, assessing current air quality conditions, setting air quality objectives for the eight main pollutants and proposing how these objectives will be achieved.

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January 1998

Technical Guidance for Local Air Quality Management published

The first Technical Guidance, LAQM.TG4(98), is published by Defra to help local authorities carry out their duties under the Local Air Quality Management regime.

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January 2001

Westminster City Council Air Quality Action Plan

Westminster City Council becomes the first local authority to publish an Air Quality Action Plan, setting out the measures to reduce pollutant emissions and concentrations.

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June 2001

Defra appraisals of Review and Assessment reports begin

Air Quality Consultants and the Air Quality Management Resource Centre at the University of the West of England are awarded the first of three contracts to appraise the Review and Assessment reports being prepared by all UK local authorities. A helpdesk is also provided.

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November 2002

IAQM established for air quality practitioners

The Institute for Air Quality Management (IAQM) is established as the professional body for air quality practitioners. Air Quality Consultants has been involved with the IAQM since its creation.

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April 2004

AQEG publishes 'Nitrogen Dioxide in the United Kingdom'

The Air Quality Expert Group provides independent, expert scientific advice to Government. Their first report, 'Nitrogen Dioxide in the UK' identifies that there are widespread exceedences of the nitrogen dioxide objective. Both Duncan Laxen and Stephen Moorcroft served as members on AQEG.

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January 2005

Defra develops exposure reduction approach

Defra commissions the first of two reports from Air Quality Consultants on how an exposure-reduction approach might be developed and implemented. This approach is adopted for PM2.5 by the UK Government, and is later incorporated into the EU Directive.

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November 2005

Stephen Moorcroft joins Air Quality Consultants

Stephen Moorcroft joined Duncan Laxen to jointly take Air Quality Consultants forwards. Previously he was Managing Director of Casella Stanger, responsible for an environmental consultancy business turning over ~ £12million/annum.

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October 2007

NSCA becomes Environmental Protection UK

The National Society for Clean Air (NSCA) renames itself. Stephen Moorcroft and Duncan Laxen have been involved in the NSCA since the 1980s. Stephen Moorcroft chairs the Air Quality Committee of Environmental Protection UK.

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May 2008

New legislation for PM2.5 introduced in Europe

The European Commission introduce new legislation for PM2.5 to drive down exposure to fine particulate matter in the largest population centres, even where limit values are not exceeded.

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February 2009

Updated Defra guidance for Local Authorities

Defra publishes updated Technical Guidance on Local Air Quality Management (LAQM.TG(09)). Air Quality Consultants played a major role in drafting this guidance.

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November 2009

IAQM publishes guidance for new developments

The Institute of Air Quality Management publishes its first guidance document assessing the significance of air quality impacts for new developments. Air Quality Consultants makes a major contribution to the preparation of this guidance.

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March 2010

Poor air quality affects life expectancy

The Environmental Audit Commission reports that poor air quality reduces the average life expectancy between 7 and 8 months, may cause up to 50,000 premature deaths a year, and that the UK is failing to meet a range of domestic and European targets.

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April 2010

EPUK publishes updated air quality guidance

Air Quality Consultants play a major role in redrafting and updating the Environmental Protection UK guidance on planning and air quality. This guidance supports planning applications for new developments.

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July 2010

Air Quality Consultants starts its 1000th project

The 1000th project is started by Air Quality Consultants. It involves the modelling of industrial emissions in Saudi Arabia.

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December 2010

First review of PM2.5 in the UK published

The first major review report on PM2.5 concentrations and sources is published by SNIFFER on behalf of UK Environment Agencies. The report is co-ordinated by Air Quality Consultants, with input from experts in the Universities of Birmingham and Edinburgh.

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July 2011

Euro Standards fail to control vehicle emissions

Research commissioned by Defra confirms concentrations of nitrogen dioxide not decreasing as expected. This is mainly due to Euro standards not being effective in reducing emissions from diesel vehicles.

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December 2011

IAQM publishes guidance for construction

The Institute of Air Quality Management publishes guidance on assessing the significance of air quality impacts of construction. Duncan Laxen makes a major contribution to the preparation of this guidance.

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November 2012

Gothenburg Protocol amended

The 1999 Gothenburg Protocol, which sets emissions reduction ceilings for sulphur, NOx, VOCs and ammonia in the UNECE region, is amended to provide tighter emission reduction requirements and to include fine particulate matter.

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December 2012

PM2.5 exposure reduction approach for Australia

Stephen Moorcroft leads a project to report on options to control exposure to PM2.5 in Australia. The project draws heavily on UK and EU experience, with which Air Quality Consultants has been closely involved.

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January 2013

2013 declared as the 'Year of Air'

The European Commission announces that 2013 is the 'Year of Air', with key European air pollution legislation up for review.

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January 2013

IAQM prepares guidance on assessing odour impacts

The Institute of Air Quality Management initiates a programme of work to prepared guidance on the assessment of odour impacts. Laurence Caird of Air Quality Consultants is contributing to the preparation of this guidance.

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April 2013

57% of local authorities with AQMAs for NO2

There are still 232 local authorities with Air Quality Management Areas declared for exceedences of the nitrogen dioxide objective (57% of UK local authorities).

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May 2013

Air Quality Consultants growth continues

Air Quality Consultants grows to 14 professional consultants, making it one of the largest air quality consultancy groups in the UK, with experience on projects in Ireland, Jersey, Gibraltar, Cyprus, Saudi Arabia, Liberia, Uganda, South Africa and Australia, as well as throughout the UK.

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February 2014

IAQM publishes guidance for construction dust

AQC is part of the IAQM Working Group developing ‘Guidance on the assessment of dust from demolition and construction’. This becomes the industry standard guidance for assessment of new developments. 

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April 2014

Air Quality Neutral guidance for the GLA

AQC leads the development of Air Quality Neutral guidance for the Greater London Authority (GLA) 

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April 2014

GLA publishes Sustainable Design and Construction

The Greater London Authority (GLA) publishes ‘Sustainable Design and Construction Supplementary Planning Guidance’ 

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May 2014

IAQM publishes guidance on the assessment of odour for planning

AQC forms part of the IAQM Working Group that developing ‘Guidance on the assessment of odour for planning’ 

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June 2014

Evidence provided at Heathrow Public Inquiry

Prof. Duncan Laxen of AQC presents evidence at the Public Inquiry into the planning application to construct an additional taxiway at the western end of the northern runway at Heathrow Airport to enable full runway alternation on easterly operations. 

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December 2014

IAQM publishes guidance on land-use planning

Stephen Moorcroft of AQC is joint chair of the IAQM and Environmental Protection UK Working Group developing guidance on ‘Land-Use Planning & Development Control: Planning For Air Quality’. The guidance is updated and reissued in January 2017. 

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April 2015

ClientEarth wins Supreme Court Ruling

ClientEarth won a Supreme Court ruling against the government which ordered ministers to come up with a plan to bring air pollution down within legal limits as soon as possible. 

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July 2015

Airports Commission publishes final report

The Airports Commission publishes its Final report, which is underpinned by the detailed emissions inventory and atmospheric dispersion modelling undertaken by AQC. The Commission sets out its recommendations to government for expanding aviation capacity in the UK. The proposal for a new northwest runway at Heathrow Airport presents the strongest case.   

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January 2016

Chris Whall joins Air Quality Consultants

Chris Whall joins AQC as a Director, working with Stephen Moorcroft (Executive Director) and Prof. Duncan Laxen (Managing Director) to help lead the team of 18 air quality consultants. 

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February 2016

AQC begins working with Heathrow Airport

AQC begins working with Heathrow Airport to support the development of its masterplan for a new northwest runway.

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March 2016

AQC launches first version of CURED

AQC launches first version its Calculator Using Realistic Emissions for Diesels (CURED). The CURED model is created in recognition of the disconnection between ‘official’ emissions factors for nitrogen oxides, as published by Defra, and those measured in the real world.  An update to CURED is published by AQC in January 2018. 

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May 2016

IAQM publishes guidance on mineral dust

AQC forms part of the IAQM Working Group developing ‘Guidance on the Assessment of Mineral Dust Impacts for Planning’.  The document is prepared in the absence of any detailed government guidance for assessing dust from mineral sites at the planning stage, and provides advice on robust and consistent approaches to undertaking such assessments.   

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July 2016

Evidence given for London City Airport expansion

London City Airport expansion is consented following a Public Inquiry at which Stephen Moorcroft of AQC gave evidence on air quality on behalf of the Airport. 

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September 2016

AQC opens new London office

AQC opens new London office. Located near Paddington, the central London office enables AQC to increase the support it provides for clients in London. 

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September 2016

AQC reviews assessment for M4 smart motorway scheme

AQC is commissioned by the London Borough of Hillingdon to review the air quality assessment prepared by Highways England to support the proposed M4 smart motorway scheme. Prof. Duncan Laxen of AQC provides expert evidence at the Development Consent Order (DCO) Hearings. 

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November 2016

ClientEarth wins High Court case

ClientEarth wins a High Court case against the Government over its failure to tackle illegal air pollution across the UK. Mr Justice Garnham agreed with ClientEarth that the Environment Secretary had failed to take measures that would bring the UK into compliance with the law “as soon as possible” and said that ministers knew that over optimistic pollution modelling was being used. 

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January 2017

AQC give evidence on behalf of TfL

Prof. Duncan Laxen of AQC gives evidence on behalf of Transport for London (TfL) at Silvertown Tunnel DCO Hearings.  The tunnel will relieve the Blackwall Tunnel and will use tolls to avoid generating additional traffic.

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June 2017

NICE publish guidance on air pollution

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) publishes its guideline on ‘Air Pollution: Outdoor Air Quality and Health’. Stephen Moorcroft at AQC served as a Topic Expert Member on the Public Health Advisory Committee, and submitted expert testimony on the role of the planning regime in delivering improvements to local air quality, and on vehicle emissions standards.  

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July 2017

ClientEarth challenge UK government plans

ClientEarth challenges the Government’s draft air quality plans released on 5 May 2017. In his judgment, Mr Justice Garnham said that there was nothing unlawful about the draft plans but suggested that final plans could well be open to legal challenge if they do not deal with some of the concerns laid out by ClientEarth. The court made it clear that any alternative measures would have to be equally or more effective than a charging Clean Air Zone (CAZ) in meeting the air quality limits.

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July 2017

Defra publishes air quality plans

Defra and the devolved administrations publish updated air quality plans for the achievement of the NO2 limits in the UK as soon as possible. 

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October 2017

Noise Consultants Limited launched

Noise Consultants Ltd is launched as a sister company to AQC, providing clients with a wide range of environmental noise and vibration consultancy services and the opportunity for a joined-up approach to meeting their air quality and noise assessment requirements. 

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November 2017

Wealden District Council publishes work undertaken by AQC

Wealden District Council publishes work undertaken by AQC monitoring and modelling air quality across the Ashdown Forest Special Area of Conservation (SAC).  The impacts of air quality on the Ashdown Forest have gained national attention since Wealden DC successfully challenged a neighbouring planning authority’s Local Plan in court for not considering cross-border impacts on protected habitats in Wealden. 

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January 2018

AQC publishes NO2 and NOx trends in the UK 2005 – 2016

AQC publishes ‘NO2 and NOx trends in the UK 2005 – 2016’. Results are presented for 156 automatic monitoring sites and show an average downward trend of around 1.5% per year for both nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and nitrogen oxides (NOx).  The downward trends are steeper at rural sites than at urban and road sites.  While the trend is downward overall, this is not seen at all sites.  

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January 2018

Chris Whall takes over as Managing Director

Chris Whall takes over as Managing Director of AQC.  He is supported by Stephen Moorcroft, who has been a Director since 2004.  Prof. Duncan Laxen, the founder of AQC, continues to provide support as an Associate.

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February 2018

ClientEarth wins a third case against the UK government

ClientEarth wins a third case against the UK Government over the country’s illegal and harmful levels of air pollution. Judge Mr Justice Garnham declared the government’s failure to require action from 45 local authorities with illegal levels of air pollution is unlawful. He ordered ministers to require local authorities to investigate and identify measures to tackle illegal levels of pollution in 33 towns and cities as soon as possible.

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March 2018

AQC wins 4 year contract with the GLA

AQC is appointed on a 4-year contract to provide policy support to the Greater London Authority (GLA). The scope of the contract includes developing guidance for the preparation of Air Quality Assessments.   

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March 2018

AQC relocate to larger premises

AQC relocates its London office to larger premises at 119 Marylebone Road to accommodate its growing team and to support its London-based clients. 

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March 2018

House of Commons call for new air measures

Four House of Commons committees call for new air quality measures, including a new Clean Air Act, car makers to pay towards a clean air fund, and bringing forward the target for 100% clean car production from 2040. 

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April 2018

AQC present at DMUG conference

AQC presents at the Dispersion Modellers User Group (DMUG) conference in London. Dr Austin Cogan of AQC discusses the modelling of street canyons, comparing ADMS-Roads and CFD Modelling. Dr Ben Marner discusses the challenges of modelling impacts of traffic emissions on habitat.

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