Air quality in Warrington is generally good but there are areas close to major roads that do exceed the national limit for mean annual nitrogen dioxide.  

Air quality management areas

Air quality in Warrington is generally good but there are areas close to major roads that do exceed the national limit for mean annual nitrogen dioxide.  

Where there's a potential risk that this limit might be exceeded, an Air Quality Management Area (AQMA) must be declared.

Approximately 1.8% of the population in Warrington live in AQMAs.

There are current two AQMAs in Warrington:

  • Motorway AQMA around the M56, M6 and M62
  • Warrington AQMA, around the town centre and main arterial roads

Please use our interactive map to view these areas.

Health and air pollution

Air pollution is associated with a number of adverse health impacts and it's recognised as a contributing factor in the onset of heart disease and cancer. Additionally, air pollution particularly affects the most vulnerable in society: children and older people and those with heart and lung conditions. There's also often a strong correlation with equalities issues, because areas with poor air quality tend to be less affluent areas.

The annual health cost to society of the impacts of particulate matter alone in the UK is estimated to be around £16 billion. Across the UK it's predicted that poor air quality leads to up to 40,000 premature deaths from exposure to particulate and nitrogen dioxide pollution.  

For Warrington in 2017, 4.1% of all mortality was attributable to man-made particulate pollution, equivalent to 95 premature deaths. This is marginally worse than the average for the north west of 4.3%.

There's no local figures available for Warrington on the health impact from nitrogen dioxide exposure but by using national figures it's been estimated that premature deaths from poor air quality in Warrington are equivalent to approximately 130 to 145 per year. 

To look at the link between poor air quality and health in Warrington a Joint Needs Strategic Assessment chapter on air quality has been produced.

Smoke control areas

The majority of Warrington is designated as Smoke Control Areas, with the exception of parts of Stretton and Hatton.

To see if you live in a smoke control area view our interactive map which shows these areas in hatched green.

It's an offence to emit smoke from a household chimney unless a Defra approved “exempt appliance” or an “authorised smokeless fuel” is used. If enforcement action is taken, fines can be up to £1000 per offence.

If you wish to burn logs as fuel please be aware that this is only allowed in an exempt appliance. Please take note of the following:

  • Logs should either be bought as kiln dried or left stored for at least two years to reduce any moisture to less than 20% within the wood
  • If you use a stove that's not an approved appliance or wish to burn in an open fireplace, then you are only allowed to use “smokeless fuel”
  • If you're installing a new wood burning stove, the stove and duct work, must be installed by an accredited engineer, such as Hetas approved, to meet building regulations
  • If the stove isn't installed by an accredited engineer then our Building Control Team should be contacted by calling 01925 443322 to check that that it's been fitted correctly (please note that there will be a charge for this)

These controls relate to smoke only. Please note that there will still be the smell of burning, which isn't an offence and isn't something that we could investigate. 

If you're affected by smoke coming from a neighbours chimney, you can report this to us via our online form or by calling 01925 443322.


It's not illegal to have a garden bonfire as long as the smoke doesn't cause a nuisance to neighbours. Nuisance is based on the amount of smoke and how often the fires occur. If a nuisance is caused by having frequent bonfires or large amounts of smoke, enforcement action could be taken with fines up to £5,000.

If you do decide to have a bonfire, please consider the following to reduce the amount of smoke to prevent any nuisance to your neighbours:

  • Do not burn any fresh cut green material as this contains moisture which will give off more smoke. Allow any material to dry out as much as possible before burning
  • Never burn any household waste
  • Inform your neighbours when you intend to have a bonfire so they can keep windows closed
  • Consider the weather conditions and wind direction when you go to light the fire so that smoke doesn't blow into neighbouring properties
  • Consider the time when you burn to avoid times when neighbours maybe outside enjoying their garden

If you're affected by smoke caused from garden bonfires you can be report this to us via our online form or by calling on 01925 443322.

Please note: an occasional bonfire, depending upon size, is unlikely to be classed as a nuisance.

However it should be noted that burning causes pollution that can affect peoples’ health, therefore we always advise that rather than burning materials try composting instead. Alternatively you could take the material to one of our recycling centres.

Useful Links

Reports and action plan

We produce an Annual Status Report each year which summarises the air quality in the borough during the previous year.  

This report is submitted to Defra for appraisal.

To try to improve air quality we've produced an Air Quality Action Plan. This sets out a series of measures and actions to reduce nitrogen dioxide and also fine particulates, PM2.5. The progress of the Action Plan is overseen by the Air Quality Programme Board, chaired by the Director of Public Health. An update of the measures is provided within the Annual Status Reports.

If you wish to view any older reports then please contact the Environmental Protection team via email.  


We operate a targeted monitoring programme to assess air quality at potentially problem areas across Warrington, making best use of the resources we have available;

  • Nitrogen dioxide is measured as monthly averages at a number of sites across Warrington using diffusion tubes
  • There's also three real time analyser sites - one on Chester Road, one on Parker Street, and one on Selby Street
  • Particulates (PM10 and PM2.5) are measured at one site, Selby Street, as part of the national network

Please click on the links to view the real time data:

Air quality forecasts

Air quality does vary day to day and is affected by weather conditions. 

Publicly available air pollution forecasts, similar to weather forecasts, are provided daily and with 5 day forecasts. These can be used by the public especially those with existing health problems that may be more affected by short term peak in poor air quality.

The forecasts use a scale of 1 to 10 to warn of short term low to high pollution episodes linked to health advice. 



Permitted installations

Under Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) 2016 Regulations, certain industrial activities are required to hold a permit to control their emissions.

If you wish to apply for a permit, this can be done online, although we recommended to contact the Environmental Protection Team to discuss your requirements before you apply.

View details of permits we regulate: 

Air quality and schools

Poor air quality affects everyone in society but there's a disproportionate effect on the youngest and oldest and those living in deprived areas which often have the worse air pollution.

Poor air quality affects children’s lung and heart development and is also linked to asthma. On poor air quality days, pollution levels can make symptoms worse. 

Warrington has no schools located within areas that exceed national limits.  However there are a number close to these areas and pupils travelling to school have to travel through areas of poor air quality.

National traffic data suggests that 20% of all peak time traffic is associated with the school run. Apart from the pollution caused there are issues of safety outside schools from congested traffic and parking problems outside and on nearby roads.

There's a number of initiates that we could support schools with, for example:

  • Cycle training
  • Travel plans
  • Anti-idling campaigns
  • Car free days and play streets
  • Walking buses

There's also a number of Key Stage 1 and 2 teacher’s packs available on-line to imbed air quality into lesson plans.

How to improve air quality

Actions to improve air quality are not purely the responsibility of local and national government. The way we live and choose to travel can cause pollution and therefore we're all affected to some extent or another.

Ideas to improve air quality:

Use a less polluting car

When buying a new car consider one that is more efficient and lower polluting. With increasing fuel costs and lower car tax, electric cars could save you money to run. Most of the main car manufacturers now produce either pure electric cars or hybrids. Range has always been a concern but most pure electric cars will now travel more than 200 miles between charges. The network of charging points are rapidly increasing reducing 'range anxiety'.  

Walk or cycle instead of driving

Not only does this save money but also improves your general health. Do you need to drive your kids to school or could you walk with them instead? View our cycling information and local maps. We've also go plenty of information on walking too.  

Use public transport

Consider going by bus or by train instead of the car.  

Car share 

Many car journeys only have one occupant. Consider car share for the journey to work and reduce your costs.

Condense 'errands' into one trip

Think about how many trips you make. Can these be organised into one trip to save time and mileage? Do you need to make several different trips to different supermarkets or drive to the shop up the road just for a pint of milk?

Driving technique

Accelerate gradually and brake gently and obey the speed limit. This will reduce your fuel costs and save on brake and tyre wear.

Maintain your vehicle

Keep the tyres properly inflated and oil topped up and serviced regularly. Your car will run more efficiently saving you money in fuel costs.

Travel lightly 

Remove any unused items from the car, such as roof racks as this reduces your fuel efficiency.

Limit idling

If the car is stationary, for example while waiting to pick your child up from school, then switch the engine off. This will save on your fuel costs and on pollution.

Save energy at home

Turn lights off at home when you leave a room, use a thermostat to control room temperature, install loft installation, look for low energy appliances like fridge freezers and washing machines. Visit the energy saving trust website to find out more

Compost garden waste

Having garden bonfires causes particulate pollution. Compost any garden waste or have it collected.  

Do not burn logs or coal as a fuel

This will cause pollution even from the smoke free fuel or from logs in exempt stoves that are allowed in Smoke Control Areas. These stoves and fuel are expensive and it remains cheaper to heat your home using domestic gas.  

Support local shops and restaurants that use local produce

This will reduce the mileage driven to deliver goods. Consider walking to the shops to reduce your own journey costs.

Plant a tree

Trees and vegetation can absorb pollution plus they make improve general health and wellbeing.

Campaign for clean air

Talk to your local Councillor or MP about schemes they can support to improve air quality locally and nationally. Encourage friends or colleagues to make changes in how they travel. Join an environmental group to raise awareness. Organise or take part in event such as National Clean Air Day.