AEA to continue Defra Air Quality work after Ricardo buyout

Consultancy will continue to work with Defra on Air Quality monitoring after being purchased for £18 million by engineering consultancy Ricardo

Environmental consultancy AEA will continue to work with Defra on air quality monitoring after being acquired by engineering consultancy Ricardo, last week.

The consultancy was bought in an £18 million deal and now becomes Ricardo AEA, after it had hit financial difficulties earlier in the year.

Emissions from bonfires in 2012 were higher than in previous years, according to Paul Willis

And, knowledge leader Paul Willis said that it was still looking to work alongside Defra in the long term to oversee the delivery of the hourly air quality bulletins on the department’s website.

Hs said: “We are involved in a number of projects for Defra including the air quality website.  We publish the data every hour through the web and also do quality assurance management. We hope to continue the work in the long term, Defra funding being forthcoming. It is competitively tendered work, but when it next comes to tender we will be hoping to retain the job.”

The energy and climate change consultancy was awarded a three-year £4.5 million contract by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) to maintain the UK’s National Atmospheric Emissions Inventory (NAEI) in November 2011, which includes air quality monitoring.

iPhone App

Last week also saw AEA launch an iphone App, uBreathe, which provides local, real time and forecast air quality information, and related health advice, to help users reduce their exposure to air pollution and its harmful effects.

Mr Willis said: “We were aware that there are Apps available for London and there are other notification services around covering other areas of the UK. What was really missing was one for the UK as a whole and the most important thing is the health advice, telling people what to do with air pollution levels increasing.

“All the information is based on daily air pollution advice we take from the Department of Health that is then mirrored through the app. It was launched just before bonfire night because that is of particular interest for people regarding air quality. Feedback we have seen on the itunes store so far has been good.”

Mr Willis commented that this year’s bonfire night had seen higher levels of emissions than in previous years, but this was caused by still weather conditions.

He added: “The emissions are always going to be pretty much the same from one year to the next although fireworks do seem to be getting bigger.  Bonfire night was on Monday this year, and we saw increased concentrations on the Saturday and Sunday but the coldest, calmest weather was on the Monday night and that was when pollutant levels were recorded as high.

“That doesn’t happen every year and this year we saw that bonfire night was slightly higher in terms of pollutant levels than last year. You can’t do too much to prevent it, but if people have the data about it they can choose whether to go outside or not under those conditions.


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