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The quality of the air we breathe can have a significant effect on our health and wellbeing.

We are required to regularly review and assess air quality in Bedford Borough, and also regulate emissions from a range of industrial processes.

We work to manage air pollution and towards achieving national objectives for key pollutants in our air including:

  • ground level ozone
  • lead
  • carbon monoxide
  • nitrogen dioxide
  • sulphur dioxide

Currently, the main source of pollution in Bedford Borough is from road traffic vehicle emissions and in 2009 Bedford Town Centre became an Air Quality Management Area (AQMA) due to excessive levels of pollution. The Town Centre AQMA 5 was declared on 6 November 2009. 

How we monitor air pollution

We use a network of diffusion tubes to monitor pollution at numerous locations within the Borough.

These are small plastic tubes that absorb pollutants which are then sent to a laboratory for analysis.

We also use real time analysers which accurately measure levels of pollutants in the air constantly.

Air quality reports

Our reports describe work that has been undertaken in monitoring and assessing air quality, as well as actions that will be progressed in order to manage air quality in Bedford Borough.

Air Quality Action Plan 2011 (PDF)

Review and assessment

Air quality data

Air quality data and pollution forecasts for Bedford Borough are available on the Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire Air Quality Network website.

Smoke control areas

The urban areas of Bedford and Kempston are in a smoke control area where only authorised fuels must be used. 

These fuels have passed tests to confirm that they are capable of burning in an open fireplace without producing smoke.

Otherwise, fuels must be burnt using an exempt fireplace. Exempt appliances are capable of burning unauthorised or smoky fuel without emitting smoke.

Open fires and wood burning stoves - a practical guide (PDF)

It is an offence to create smoke from a chimney of a building, or from a furnace, or any fixed boiler in a smoke control area.

We issue fines of up to £1,000 for burning waste which creates smoke in the Bedford and Kempston smoke control area.

View our smoke control area map.

The Air Quality (Domestic Solid Fuels Standards) (England) Regulations 2020

From 1 May 2021 new legislation regulating the sale of solid fuels came into force.

This places restrictions on the sale of certain solid fuels including traditional house coal (also known as bituminous coal), wood and manufactured solid fuels.

For further information see guidance on GOV.UK:

Please email to report any concerns about the sale of solid fuel.

Report an air quality issue

Our teams work hard to keep Bedford Borough clean. You can contact them to ask them about:

  • how they keep our community clean and other general information request
  • complain about a service
  • give them a compliment on a job well done

You can get in contact by email or telephone 01234 718099.

Air quality partnerships with educational establishments

Read about how we’re supporting schools and families in the AQMA.