Defra procures air quality monitoring contract

Winning tender will measure airborne particulate matter concentrations in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland

The government is procuring a contract worth between £500,000 and £750,000 to measure UK airborne particulate matter (PM) concentrations and numbers as part of the national air quality monitoring network.

Defra is procuring the three-year contract, which will commence in April 2015, on behalf of the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish and central governments.

Defra's Nobel House headquarters in London - the Department is seeking a new contractor to measure PM concentrations in the UK

Defra’s Nobel House headquarters in London – the Department is seeking a new contractor to measure PM concentrations in the UK

According to the tender document, the deal will include a handover period of “not less than” one month with the current contractor, Middlesex-based National Physical Laboratory (NPL), and an option to extend the deal by up to a further two years in 12-month increments.

Defra expects bidders to have an annual turnover for each of the last two financial years of at least £1.5 million.

As part of the contract, the winning tender will need to maintain the measurement and monitoring arrangements using “instrumental and analytical procedures to understand the composition of PM” (particulate matter).

The winning bidder will also need to analyse data from the network and information from other available sources to “improve understanding of the characteristics and behaviour of particulate matter in the UK”.

In addition, the contractor will be expected to identify and develop new technical and geographical opportunities for measuring fine and ultrafine particles in the UK.

Data collected by the network is collated by Defra’s air quality central management contractors Kings College London and then passed to Defra’s air quality data dissemination contractor, Ricardo-AEA.

Some information on PM2.5 organic carbon and elemental carbon is also provided to the European Commission under reporting requirements in the EU Air Quality Directive (2008/50/EC).

Potential bidders have until a deadline of March 16 2015 to submit their tenders to Defra.


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Roland Gilmore
Roland Gilmore
9 years ago

The tender condition of at least £1.5M turnover for the past two years would have excluded most SMEs. After overheads, a gross expenditure of £3,200-4,800 a week, spread over all three countries is unlikely to buy much data collection, analytical laboratory, technical and expert time. It does make one wonder if Defra’s design of the study will be relevant enough and if the quality of the results will be as definitive as they could be.

Michael Ryan
Michael Ryan
9 years ago

The link between exposure to emissions from sources of toxic pollution and infant death rates in London’s Boroughs is very clear.

During the three-year-period 1965-67, Kensington & Chelsea (K&C) had the highest infant mortality rate with Lambeth & other Boroughs exposed to emissions from Battersea and other power stations close behind, while Harrow and Hllingdon Boroughs had the lowest rate of 13 per 1,000 live births compared with K&C’s 23.0 per 1,000:

Kensington and Chelsea
Westminster, City of

During the 3-year-period 1978-80, Waltham Forest, which had been downwind from the Edmonton incinerator for all westerly winds since it started in 1971, had the highest infant death rate out of all London Boroughs.

Waltham Forest’s infant death rate in 1991-93 was still the highest in London in a period just before the SELCHP incinerator started.

In 1997-99, the five London Boroughs with highest rates were:


Note that when the GLA produced a 10-page report about infant mortality in London (May 2010) they blamed deprivation for high infant mortality rates in Newham, which was 6.5 per 1,000 live births in the seven years 2002-2008, but overlooked the fact that Soutwark’s rate was higher at 7.2 per 1,000.

Question No: 41 / 2010
Darren Johnson
A constituent asks, is there any evidence to suggest that the SELCHP and Kings College Hospital incinerators which flank Southwark contributed to the Borough having the highest infant mortality rate in London in 2008?

Infant morality rates
Question No: 42 / 2010
Darren Johnson
Will you publish electoral ward-level data and a map showing the 2002-2008 infant mortality rates in London?

It’s a funny old world when the reliable “excuse” of deprivation for causing higher infant mortality wasn’t applicable in 1965-67.

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