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).
Air Quality Consultants Ltd set up
Air Quality Consultants Ltd is established on 4th May 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
Air Quality Neutral guidance for the GLA
AQC leads the development of Air Quality Neutral guidance for the Greater London Authority (GLA)
GLA publishes Sustainable Design and Construction
The Greater London Authority (GLA) publishes ‘Sustainable Design and Construction Supplementary Planning Guidance’
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’
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
AQC begins working with Heathrow Airport
AQC begins working with Heathrow Airport to support the development of its masterplan for a new northwest runway.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.