Air quality is the term used to describe how polluted the air we breathe is. When air quality is poor, pollutants in the air may be hazardous to people, particularly those with lung or heart conditions.
Rutland's air quality is typical of a rural area in the East Midlands.
There are many sources of air pollution in the county, with roads being the most significant source of nitrogen dioxide and invisible particle matter. We also have quarrying that contributes to dust and invisible particulate matter. Agricultural activities are another source of nitrogen pollution.
Rutland can also be affected by air pollutants from outside the county and there have been episodes of high air pollution carried from Europe.
Particulate matter PM25 and PM10 are of growing concern because of their impact on our health. Coupled to nitrogen dioxide, they account for between 28,000 and 36,000 deaths per year in the UK. Air pollution has taken over smoking as the leading cause of premature deaths.
We monitor 11 sites for nitrogen dioxide across Rutland. We publish the results in our annual air quality reports.
Air pollution has an adverse impact on the environment, too. Many habitats rely on a low soil nutrients - like unimproved grasslands and the roadside verges we manage. The oxides of nitrogen act like a fertilizer (eutrophication) and cause more vigorous plants to become dominant, which lowers floral diversity.
Our lichen community has benefited from the reduction of sulphur dioxide from the burning of coal. However, the eutrophication along roads is clearly demonstrated by species that require a high nitrogen loading.
There are no locations in Rutland where an action plan is needed to improve air quality. In addition to the monitoring, we also consult with planning and highways if developments or schemes may affect air quality.
Many new major housing or industrial development must have an air quality assessment carried out as part of the planning process. We've also advised on the local plan about spatial distribution of development and separating housing from industry.
Air pollution Advice
If you're worried about air pollution and its effects, visit the Department for Rural Affairs website for information, including a air pollution forecast.
Our pollution control service is delivered as a shared service with Peterborough City Council.
Open fires and stoves
There's interest in using wood or multi-fuel stoves, due to the cost of living crisis. Many people are using them in conservatories and extensions and installing their own flues - this can cause major problems. The particulates can also cause air pollution.
There are no smoke control areas in Rutland, but you can only burn normal fuels (coal or wood, for example) - you're not allowed to burn waste materials (plastic, for example).