Coal a factor in West Lothian air quality study

An air quality management area is being considered by West Lothian council in Scotland for the town of Newton located about 6 miles west of Edinburgh.

And, according to a report from consultant Ricardo Energy and Environment, air pollution from fuel combustion in local housing including coal and oil, contributes significantly to the poor air quality found in the location.

West Lothian council said this week that the report for Newton has been finalised and includes modelling of PM10 particles.

An air quality management area is being consulted on for Newton by West Lothian council

An air quality management area is being consulted on for Newton by West Lothian council

Announcing a consultation on the report, the authority said: “The key purpose of the report is to assess the magnitude of any exceedances of the PM10 annual mean objectives at locations that relevant human exposure may occur.”

In consequence, it was noted that: “In light of this detailed assessment of air quality in Newton using the available monitoring data from 2014, West Lothian council is required to declare an Air Quality Management Area for exceedances of the PM10 annual mean Scottish objective.”


The modelling study within the report indicated the following:

The 2 main sources of PM10 emissions in the Newton area are fuel combustion and road transport.
There are exceedances of the PM10 annual mean Scottish Objective in most of Newton.
Non road-traffic PM10 concentrations account for a significantly high proportion, up to 91.3% of total PM10 concentrations within the study area.
The contribution from road traffic to PM10 concentration is higher for the receptors closer to the road.

When only comparing the contribution of road traffic and domestic fuel combustion, the largest contribution at each receptor comes from domestic fuel combustion. The contribution of domestic fuel combustion goes from 50.2% for receptors closest to the road up to 92.6% for receptors further away from the road, excluding the background contribution.


The air quality management area is likely to have boundaries which mirror those in the West Lothian Local Development Proposed Plan and will include the whole of Newton.

The study focused on an area encompassing Newton Main Street which is part of the A904 and a main route accessing the Forth Road Bridge.

In terms of the fuel combustion, a ‘domestic fuel use survey’ was carried out by Ricardo Energy & Environment and was said to give “a good representation of the fuel use in Newton”. Findings were that heating provision included 29% of homes using oil as a heat source and 29% coal.

More information is available at: West Lothian consultation


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