Air quality

Air quality describes the cleanliness of the air we breathe, and ‘poor air quality’ means that the air is polluted with gases and particles which are harmful to our health.

About air quality pollutants

 The air quality pollutants which are of concern within Trafford are:

Nitrogen dioxide (NO2 or NOx)

NO2 is an invisible gas produced when fossil fuels are burned, for example, petrol and diesel in vehicle engines, and gas in boilers and gas stoves. NO2 is sometimes expressed as ‘NOx’, which includes NO2 and nitrogen oxide (NO), another gas produced at the same time as NO2.

NO2 is a respiratory irritant and can cause inflammation of the airways. This can lead to coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath. Exposure to NO2 can reduce lung development in babies and children, which can affect lung health throughout life.

Particulate matter (PM)

Particulate matter refers to solid or liquid particles suspended in the air. PM is often written as ‘PM10’ or ‘PM2.5’; the number indicates the size of the particles in micrometres (a micrometre is one-thousandth of a millimetre). For comparison, human hair is about 50 micrometres in diameter. PM2.5 is referred to as ‘fine particulate matter’ because it is so small and can reach deep into the lungs and even the bloodstream.

The majority of PM is from human activities such as burning fossil fuels in vehicle engines, in kitchens and in open fireplaces and wood-burning stoves. Outdoor fires (such as garden bonfires) are also a source of PM. PM is also produced when building materials are crushed or broken on construction sites, and by friction between surfaces such as vehicle tyres on roads.

Greater Manchester Clean Air Plan

Like many areas across the country, Greater Manchester has high levels of air pollution on some local roads. It affects everyone’s health and is linked to early deaths. 

Greater Manchester is under direction from government to develop a Clean Air Plan to meet legal limits for nitrogen dioxide on local roads in the shortest possible time and by 2026 at the latest.

The Greater Manchester proposed investment-led Clean Air Plan does not include a charging Clean Air Zone. The investment-led plan developed by all ten GM local authorities would bring air quality within legal limits by 2025 – faster than a Clean Air Zone – and without causing hardship to residents or businesses. 

If approved by government, the Clean Air Plan would use government funding already awarded to the city region for: 

  • 64 zero-emission electric buses for the Bee Network to run in areas with poor air quality
  • Clean vehicle grants for all eligible GM-licensed taxis and private hire vehicle owners
  • Local measures to manage traffic flow and improve air quality on some roads in the centre of Manchester and Salford

If the government approves the Greater Manchester Clean Air Plan no vehicle would be charged to drive in a Clean Air Zone in Greater Manchester.  

You can keep up to date on developments with the Clean Air Plan and sign up for updates at 

Greater Manchester Air Quality Action Plan

The Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) has adopted its new Low-Emission Strategy (LES) and Air Quality Action Plan (AQAP), complementing the Greater Manchester Climate Change Strategy and Implementation Plan which focus on measures to reduce energy usage.

The LES and AQAP aim to tackle emissions from road transport in order to improve air quality and to contribute to a reduction in CO2 emissions.

They propose a range of policies and measures to:

  • Reduce air pollution as a contributor to ill-health
  • Support the UK Government in meeting EU air quality threshold
  • Contribute to a reduction in Greater Manchester’s carbon footprint
  • Encourage a low-emission culture in the city region

As Greater Manchester’s economy and population grow, there is increased demand for public and private transport and for movement of goods. So the need to achieve tough targets for air quality improvement and carbon reduction will require strong commitment from a wide range of organisations and potentially radical solutions to support the region’s economic, social and environmental ambitions.

To find out more about the LES and AQAP, visit the Transport for Greater Manchester website.

Air quality reports and data

Every year Greater Manchester publishes an Annual Status Report, which:

  • Outlines the strategies to improve local air quality and any progress made
  • Gives a summary of local monitoring/modelling air quality data
  • Reports on significant new developments that might affect local air quality

The latest status reports are available to download

Continuous air quality monitoring data in Trafford is available on the Air quality England website. You can find historical annual data, a map of diffusion tube locations and air pollution levels for nitrogen dioxide across Greater Manchester on the GM Clean Air Website.

Additional air quality data for Trafford is available upon request, contact the Pollution team.

Trafford smoke control area

The entire Trafford borough is a smoke control area, within the smoke control area it is an offence to emit smoke from a chimney of a building (including a domestic chimney), furnace or any fixed boiler. Users of solid fuel appliances must ensure that smoke from their chimney does not cause a nuisance to any residents of nearby properties.

Stove and fire smoke contains tiny particles known as particulate matter (PM2.5). This pollutant has been identified by the World Health Organization as the most harmful to human health.

View information on the sources and impacts of domestic smoke

It's also an offence to acquire unauthorised fuel for use within a smoke control area unless it's used in an exempt appliance. The current maximum level of fine is £1,000 for each offence.

Our Pollution Team investigate complaints regarding the use of solid fuel burners within the borough. Contact the Pollution Team for more information if you are considering installing a solid fuel burner or refer to the advice contained in this DEFRA document.

Report a bonfire or smoking chimney

You can make a complaint online. 

Report a bonfire or smoking chimney online.