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Air Quality

Monitoring Air Quality at London Stansted Airport

Air Quality

At London Stansted we've been monitoring air quality in respect of oxides of nitrogen (NOx) emissions and particulate matter (PM10 ) for many years. Our current levels indicate that we are well under the EU air quality standards. The trend for air quality has been one of continual improvement.

Studies show that the influence of oxides of nitrogen emissions from airport activities falls rapidly with distance from the airport boundary.

In 2012, we commissioned an airport-wide transect study, which included Hatfield Forest – a site of special scientific interest located approximately 1km from the south-west perimeter of the airport. The study found air quality levels were under EU limits, with the lowest concentrations shown in the forest. Of the five sites within Hatfield Forest the average readings were between 17.7 and 12.8 μg/m3.

View the Transect Study Report (886KB PDF)

Air quality management is a key priority for Stansted Airport Limited (STAL) and local air quality is one of the issues identified as a concern to both local residents and national stakeholders. Aircraft, airside operations and surface access travel to and from the Airport are amongst the contributors to air quality.

Managing and where possible improving air quality is a long standing commitment within the airport's corporate sustainability agenda. We recognise the need to manage the emissions that we have direct responsibility for and to work in partnership with Airport users and tenants to manage air quality impacts.

London Stansted has a long history of monitoring and mitigating the impacts of the Airport on air quality. During this time, we have always remained well within the EU air quality limits.

In October 2008, London Stansted received approval from the Secretary of State to grow the Airport from 25 million passengers per annum (mppa) to 35 mppa.

Whilst we expect there to be only limited impacts on air quality during this phase of growth, London Stansted is committed to a number of planning obligations, mitigating the impacts of this growth on the environment. Central to this approach is our Air Quality Strategy; which sets out how we plan to manage air quality ensuring that we continue to sustain the air quality levels at Stansted, within European Union (EU) limits.


Air quality limits

European Regulatory Framework

The European Union (EU) requires Member States to achieve health-based air quality limits for a range of pollutants. These limit values are prescribed principally through the 2008 European Directive on Ambient Air Quality and Cleaner Air for Europe. The limits are legally binding and must be met by the UK Government and they include limits for Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) particulate matter less than 10 microns (PM10) and particulate matter less than 2.5 microns (PM2.5).

There are also limits for the protection of vegetation and ecosystems. The limits to protect vegetation are limited in their application rather than being intended to protect human health. In addition to this Nitrogen Oxides (NOx) limits have been in force for some years.

View our air quality strategy


Air quality reports

Each year since 2006, the airport has commissioned annual air quality monitoring reports.  The aim of this ongoing monitoring programme is to monitor air pollution around the airport, to compare the results with applicable air quality objectives, and to investigate how air pollutant concentrations are changing over time.

The most recent reports can be accessed via the following links:

Air Quality Reports