Agenda item

Air Quality Update

To receive and consider the report of the Deputy Chief Executive.


The Chair welcomed Carolyn Williams, Central Lancashire Local Plan Co-Ordinator, who attended to give an update on air quality issues.


The Council had declared a climate emergency in November 2019, as part of this declaration, the council committed to being carbon neutral by 2030, 20 years ahead of the UK target of 2050.


The Environment Bill will introduce a National Air Quality Strategy and all Local Authorities will need to adhere to this when exercising any function which could affect the quality of air. When enacted the Bill will introduce mandatory targets in relation to pollutant levels, including Particulate matter 2.5 (PM2.5).


The council currently monitor air quality across a number of different sites in Chorley. A report on this known as the ‘Air Quality Status Report (ASR)’, is produced annually, this is a requirement of the existing legislative framework set out in the Environment Act 1995.


The principle pollutants of concern within Chorley are those mainly associated with traffic, these being Nitrogen Dioxide, and Particulate Matter. The Council monitors Nitrogen Dioxide emissions via a network of passive diffusion tubes against National Air Quality Objectives. Currently there are no Air Quality Management Areas declared within the borough as the Air Quality Objectives are being met.


Air Quality has been identified as a Corporate Priority for the Council and in order to deliver change in this area, a capital budget has been allocated for improving air quality. This will allow for increased monitoring across the borough and enable production and delivery of an Air Quality Strategy (AQS).


The strategy also proposes the development of a detailed communications strategy to identify how we can effectively engage with residents and businesses, raising awareness and better educating people how toto reduce air pollution and in what way small actions can have a big impact.


The strategy will also ask the Council to lead by example and look at implementing measures affecting the way we operate our business that can have a direct impact on air quality, such as moving council fleet vehicles to electric and promoting use of sustainable travel by employees as well as looking at how we can make our buildings more energy efficient.


The Strategy will also look at ways to promote more sustainable development and incorporate air quality requirements into policy development for the council through the new Local Plan, as well as working with partners to identify how to ensure infrastructure requirements promote sustainable travel.


Members discussed the impact of lockdown on air pollution.  In response to a query regarding using data collected privately regarding air pollution it was noted that the Council need to ensure the veracity and accuracy of any data used and therefore the use of private individual’s data may not meet the standards required.


A Climate Change Working Group is due to be set up by the council to support the green agenda, including air pollution. 


A query was raised regarding a planning application at Botany Bay.  It was noted that the application has not been submitted, but air quality will be considered when determining this application.  It was suggested that any concerns are followed up with the Development Control team once an application is submitted.


Members raised the issue of wood burning stoves and noted that new legislation is due regarding these and issues surrounding their use. 


In response to a query regarding how the council monitor NOx it was clarified that the council use an approved method for monitoring NOx across the borough in line with DEFRA technical guidance.  Although it is an annual average the monthly results do indicate where there may be likely shorter term exceedances and this information is used to inform air quality assessments. Monitoring is located in areas that have highest levels of traffic, in order to identify to worse case scenarios.


The council do not currently monitor pm 2.5. One of the larger pieces of work within the AQS relates to the investment in monitoring that will provide data on a range of pollutants including PM2.5. The council has already committed to expanding the monitoring capacity.


The Chair thanked the Carolyn for her attendance.

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