Falkirk declares AQMA for Grangemouth

Falkirk council has bowed to pressure from the Scottish Environment Protection Agency and will declare an air quality management area (AQMA) to tackle sulphur dioxide in the Grangemouth area.

The move follows SEPA's threat to use reserve powers to force the council to declare if it failed to act by mid-June (ENDS Report 364, p 5 ).

The UK's 15-minute mean objective for SO2 - which allows 15-minute concentrations to exceed 266µg/m3 only 35 times a year - has been exceeded in Grangemouth every year for the past four years, but pollution levels are falling and there have only been four exceedences so far this year.

The council and SEPA had disagreed over the need for an AQMA. Recent and ongoing investment in pollution abatement at the nearby BP/Innovene petrochemicals complex has seen emissions from the plant decline and the council believes this will be adequate to ensure compliance by the end of this year.

SEPA, for its part, is unhappy with uncertainties in the modelling of the pollution and the high number of unattributable exceedences. The AQMA declaration will prompt more detailed assessment work to get to the bottom of the sources.

  • Correction: BP Grangemouth. In our article last month we incorrectly quoted the total 2002 SO2 emissions from the BP/Innovene complex as 81,060 tonnes. The actual figure was 8,106 tonnes. BP has also pointed out that the verified SO2 emission totals for 2003 and 2004 are 6,234 and 4,035 tonnes respectively, demonstrating a significant downward trend as a direct result of investment by the company.

    BP says that none of the four exceedences recorded by the council this year have been attributed to emissions from its complex.