Why is air quality important?
It is now proven that poor air quality can have a serious affect on health, particularly in the vulnerable people of society, such as the young, the elderly and those with pre-existing medical conditions. Air pollution is a significant public health concern and local authorities are seen as playing a part in helping improve air quality.
Local Air Quality Management
Through the Local Air Quality Management (LAQM) system local authorities are required to regularly review and assess air quality in their areas, and to determine whether or not air quality objectives are likely to be achieved. Where exceedences are considered likely, the local authority must then declare an Air Quality Management Area (AQMA) and prepare an Air Quality Action Plan (AQAP) setting out the measures it intends to put in place in pursuit of the objectives. Details on the LAQM process can be found in Defra's 2016 LAQM Policy Guidance.
Air Quality in East Staffordshire
East Staffordshire currently has 2 Air Quality Management Areas (AQMAs) declared for the pollutant nitrogen dioxide (NO2) which exceeded the annual objective. These type of exceedences are common across local authorities in England and Wales and as with most AQMAs relate to road traffic emissions.
Under LAQM where an AQMA is declared local authorities are required to draw up an Air Quality Action Plan (AQAP) in pursuit of meeting the objectives. The current Action Plan 2015-2020 is predominantly based on the Staffordshire County Council's East Staffordshire Integrated Transport Strategy, which can be found at East Staffordshire Integrated Transport Strategy.
Both AQMAs are located in Burton upon Trent, with the larger area focusing upon the Derby Turn roundabout and the road network which feeds into it. The smaller AQMA focuses upon the St Peters roundabout in Stapenhill. Maps of the 2 AQMAs are at Defra AQMAs.
Annual Status Report
Under LAQM local authorities are annually required to submit an Annual Status Report (ASR) to report on progress in achieving objectives for certain air quality pollutants. ASRs are designed to simplify the reporting process and introduce consistency to reporting. The ASR predominantly includes information on progress on the implementation of AQAPs, a summary of any monitoring data over the last 12 months and information on any changes that may affect air quality. Importantly, the ASR contains an executive summary which provides a simple update on local authority progress over the last 12 months. East Staffordshire Borough Council's ASR will be available to view shortly following approval by Defra.
Prior to 2015 local authorities did not produce ASRs but produced other forms of annual reports. These can be viewed below:
Air Quality Strategy 2015-2020
In 2015 East Staffordshire Borough Council drafted an Air Quality Strategy, which sets out the overarching framework through which air quality will be managed within the Borough and includes our responsibilities under LAQM.
This strategy covers the period 2015-2020, and is supplemented by two technical documents that feed into the Strategy.
Technical Document 1 is an Air Quality Action Plan, which also covers the period 2015-2020, with a revised set of actions from the 2009 plan, originally drawn up to address air quality exceedences within the two Air Quality Management Areas in the borough.
Technical Document 2 is an Air Quality Policy for Development Control, which sets out the framework through which East Staffordshire Borough Council assesses air quality within the development control regime.
The overall aim of the Air Quality Strategy is:
To continue East Staffordshire Borough Council’s commitment to the effective management of local air quality, working towards the control and reduction of the detrimental impacts that poor air quality can have on human health and the environment.
The objectives of this strategy are to:
- Ensure that we meet our statutory responsibilities in relation to the National Air Quality Strategy.
- Continue to work towards improving air quality within our Air Quality Management Areas.
- Protect air quality in areas currently meeting national standards.
- Have a clear consistent process for the assessment of air quality in the context of development control.
- Ensure that all relevant Council policies positively integrate air quality in a consistent manner.
- Maintain an effective air quality monitoring network to measure progress and to help prioritise actions.
- Ensure that air quality measures and mitigation do not have an unacceptable effect on climate change or any other negative environmental impacts.
- Identify opportunities to involve and inform communities in air quality issues and undertake wider information campaigns around the air quality theme.