Air quality

Poor air quality is one of the key challenges facing local authorities today and can affect all areas of our lives, posing the greatest risk to our health and surrounding environment.

Wigan Council is committed to maintaining good standards of air quality across the borough by working collaboratively with partner organisations to mitigate any issues that may impact on the borough’s air quality - see our air quality commitment policy.

What we do

We are working in partnership with  TfGM (external link) and Greater Manchester local authorities to implement Greater Manchester’s Air Quality action plan (2016-2021), ensuring current and future air quality across Wigan Borough meets national objectives. Our responsibilities include:

  • Monitoring levels of pollutants considered harmful to health
  • Inspecting companies emissions
  • Investigating complaints
  • Advising on burning business waste
  • Liaising with developers where air pollution may arise from new developments
  • Encouraging cleaner modes of transport
  • Advising members of the public on smoke control areas and the use of approved appliances.

Find out more information about the Greater Manchester Clean Air Plan, including air quality data and tips (external link).

How is air quality measured?

Environmental Health monitors nitrogen dioxide (NO2) emissions via NO2 passive diffusion tubes located across the borough. These tubes offer an indicator of air quality, providing a good picture of nitrogen dioxide levels across the borough.

Air quality monitoring station

We have one automatic monitoring station in Wigan, located at the Deanery high school, which records levels across the borough of a typical urban area that is not near a road or other source. The instruments run continuously, recording almost real-time concentrations of pollutants including nitrogen dioxide, particles and ozone. The results are then stored.

We are currently working with TfGM to install a roadside air quality monitoring station in Leigh.

Things you can do

To help protect yourself and others from the effects of air pollution here are a few tips:

  • Don’t leave your engine idling, switch your engine off when stationary - Car drivers are exposed to twice as much air pollution as pedestrians and nine times more than a cyclist
  • By walking, cycling, or taking the bus or train, you’ll cut down the amount of pollution you make, reduce your exposure to air pollution and get some exercise too
  • Don’t over rev the engine, particularly when starting your vehicle
  • Slow down and drive smoothly. Driving at higher speeds and more aggressively causes more pollution and higher fuel consumption so avoid rapid acceleration and heavy breaking
  • Don’t sit and wait for the car to warm up, drive off as soon as possible
  • Use air conditioning (AC) sparingly - AC is a drain on the car’s engine
  • Check your tyre pressure - under inflated tyres will increase your fuel bills and increase emissions
  • Avoid short trips, could you walk or cycle instead?
  • If you are buying a new car explore an electric, hybrid or LPG model (to save on your road tax too)
  • Use energy-efficient appliances, insulate your home and regularly service your boiler
  • Find out how to reduce the environmental and health impacts of wood burning stoves or open fires (external link).

Sign up for air pollution alerts

  • Visit Clean Air GM (external link) to receive air pollution alerts by text messages, emails and recorded calls
  • The messages are free and are based on a forecast of expected air quality for today or the next day, depending on your preference
  • You can also view 3 day forecasts of expected air quality for different air pollutants across Wigan borough, so you can plan ahead.


School children are particularly vulnerable to air pollution because their lungs are still developing. The good news is, we can all make small changes to help clean up our air and help protect our families.

For more information visit Clean Air GM Schools (external link), where you can also find curriculum-linked lesson plans and resources with the latest scientific understanding and campaign tools.

According to Rule 123 of The Highway Code, you must not idle on a public road unnecessarily. Drivers who break this rule can be issued with fines.

Anti-idling school poster competition

Young people from schools across Wigan borough are invited to take part in our poster competition to help improve air quality.

One of the most common places for cars to be left idling is outside school gates at drop off and pick up times. This means school children are being exposed to increased and unnecessary air pollution.

Think about how you can create a poster to encourage people to switch off their car engine when stationary to reduce air pollution. This must be designed by hand.

The winning poster will be used by the Council in further publications, promotions and on signs outside schools to encourage positive behaviour.

How do I enter?

Posters should be submitted to your teacher and a scanned copy sent to with the heading 'Anti-idling competition'. You must include:

  • Name of your school
  • Pupil’s name, age and a contact telephone number (should your entry prove successful).

Don't forget to keep the original version of your poster, if it's the winning entry we will need it for our promotions.

The deadline for submission is 5pm on the 29th November 2019.

GM Clean Air Plan Outline Business Case

This OBC has been developed by Wigan Council collectively with all Greater Manchester local authorities and the GMCA, and co-ordinated by TfGM in line with Government direction and guidance.

Strategic Outline Case (SOC)

TfGM in collaboration with the 10 GM local authorities has developed this SOC to ensure the required improvements to local air quality are achieved in the ‘shortest possible time’.

Air Quality Management Area (AQMA)

We review local air quality and assess whether health-based air quality objectives will be achieved.

If it's predicted that these objectives will not be achieved an Air Quality Management Area must be designated and an action plan put in place to improve air quality to acceptable levels.


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