air quality is good for the vast majority of the time…

Given that government ministers have argued that water charges are needed, at least in part, to pay for improvements in water quality, how worried should we be that the DOE’s report on Air Quality Monitoring in Northern Ireland 2005[pdf file] concluded, “Air quality is continuing to improve generally in Northern Ireland; however, monitoring has identified some areas across the province that will require action.”? Hmmm.. [Don’t be giving them any ideas! – Ed] There’s a website too..NIO, and Scotland Office, minister David Cairns accentuated the positive

“I am pleased to report that air quality is good for the vast majority of the time in Northern Ireland.

There is a caveat to the reported results though..

It is usually considered that at least five years’ data are required for the meaningful assessment of trends in pollutant concentrations at any location. Most of Northern Ireland’s automatic monitoring sites have not been running this long. However, a small number of sites have been operating for a sufficient time to assess trends in air quality.

And those conclusions were

7. Conclusions

1) Air quality is continuing to improve generally in Northern Ireland; however, monitoring has identified some areas across the province that will require action.

2) Measurements from Northern Ireland’s network of 39 automatic air quality monitoring stations during 2005 and previous years show that the Air Quality Strategy Objectives for the following pollutants have been met by the due dates –
Carbon Monoxide
Benzene
1,3-Butadiene
Sulphur Dioxide
Lead

3) Two sites close to busy roads in Belfast and Londonderry did not meet AQS Objectives for annual mean Nitrogen Dioxide by the end of 2005 as required.

4) One site in Ballymoney also failed to meet the AQS Objective for 24-hour mean Particulate matter as PM10. However, three other sites in Belfast, Newry and Strabane, which did not meet the objective in 2004, have now achieved this.

5) Having completed the first round of Review and Assessment, District Councils have now declared a total of 22 Air Quality Management Areas covering PM10, NO2 and SO2. Action Plans are being developed, and will be made available on the Northern Ireland Air Quality web site when completed. The second round of local air quality management review and assessment commenced during 2006. All Councils have now submitted Updating and Screening Reports to the Department for appraisal.