An Industry Perspective On Clean Air Post-Brexit

Updated: Jul 24, 2019


Roland Leigh standing outside the houses of parliament
Technical Director, Roland Leigh after a visit to the Houses of Parliament

EarthSense: the air quality experts

EarthSense was born from 15 years of air quality research at the University of Leicester, and was created to bring some cutting-edge techniques into the operational environment with the aim of:

  • contributing to resolving the current air quality crisis

  • promoting sustainable development and clean technologies

  • encouraging societal benefit and economic growth

EarthSense have clearly demonstrated organic growth within the team, with significant ambitions to grow and export abroad in the near future.


This is our perspective on the air quality aspects of Brexit, a summary of a speech presented to the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Air Pollution at the Houses of Parliament on 19th June 2018.


The Big Issues

92% of the world’s population is affected by poor air quality. To start with the obvious; any relaxation of air quality legislation, additional leniency shown for non-compliance, or even perception thereof, would be highly damaging to a wide range of industries across the UK.


If we trail other countries in this area, our industry will look to other countries for existing solutions, and our international competitiveness will diminish. Our export power reduces further as our perceived environmental credentials weaken, and we struggle to deliver services across the world from a country which is perceived as weak in terms of air quality.


The environmental monitoring sector would be heavily affected of course. It would also be accompanied by every industry which is no longer driven to innovate to comply with tight regulations.

Our automotive and engineering sectors, in addition to our sustainable urban development industries, will therefore not be helped in the medium or long term by anything other than leadership in approaches to tackle pollution.

Ideally, we would encourage, stimulate and initiate innovation through clean and demanding legislation. However, softer approaches must also be utilised, including the encouragement of industrial best practice in the area through accreditation schemes and intelligent public procurement.


Project ACCRA with Innovate UK

I was in Leeds last week, presenting the final results of an Innovate UK project called ACCRA which applied a number of key innovations to this problem. ​​

EarthSense instrumented electric vans, operated by Leeds City Council, with air quality monitoring equipment. As these vehicles travelled around Leeds on council business, measurements of ambient concentrations of key pollutants were captured and transmitted in real-time and integrated into a detailed model of Leeds.


 A hybrid HGV Zephyr® air quality sensor installed for the ACCRA trial