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New Planning for Air Quality Guidance Launched


EPUK and IAQM have published the long awaited update to the Land-Use Planning & Development Control: Planning for Air Quality guidance (download here).  Stephen Moorcroft of Air Quality Consultants Ltd was co-chair of the working group which assembled the document, whilst other members of Air Quality Consultants Ltd provided comments and advice at various stages.

The new guidance places a greater emphasis on incorporating the principle of “better by design” into all new developments.  It incorporates a new two-stage approach to determining when an air quality assessment is required and notes that the air quality assessment required may be ‘simple’ or ‘detailed’.  New definitions for impact descriptors and advice on determining the significance of the air quality impact of a development are included.

Both the criteria for requiring an air quality assessment and the impact descriptors have become more stringent.  This is to reflect the increasing importance of air quality in decision making and the continuing breach of EU Limit Values and UK Objectives at locations across the UK.

Air Quality Consultants Ltd will be applying this guidance to all new assessments it carries out.  To discuss the requirements for a development, or obtain a quote for an air quality assessment using this new guidance, contact Air Quality Consultants Ltd at Bristol@aqconsultants.co.uk or London@aqconsultants.co.uk.


£5 billion Investment in Roads


Air Quality Consultants Ltd is part of the team assembled by WSP and Parson Brinckerhoff  (WSP/PB) that has been appointed to a Highways Agency (HA) Framework contract to deliver its road investment programme.  WSP/PB is one of ten suppliers appointed to Lot 1 of the Collaborative Delivery Framework (find out more here), which will deliver professional design and engineering services. 

The Framework will enable the HA to implement a £5 billion programme of investment in strategic roads over the next five years.  Designers and contractors will work collaboratively together with the HA to deliver efficiencies in the increasing investment in the strategic roads network. This will enable the HA to take forwards schemes such as the A14 upgrade in Cambridgeshire and the Smart Motorways programme.

Air Quality Consultants Ltd is ideally placed to undertake this work, as it has been addressing air quality issues associated with road schemes for over 20 years.  “We look forwards to contributing our considerable air quality experience to the WSP/PB team, as it examines proposals for new road investment”, said Prof. Duncan Laxen, Managing Director of Air Quality Consultants Ltd.


Major Study of Air Quality Effects on Ashdown Forest


Air Quality Consultants Ltd is working alongside ECUS Ltd on a contract awarded by Wealden District Council.  The contract, worth over £0.5m, is to carry out a long-term study of nitrogen deposition at Ashdown Forest and the effect this is having on the special ecology of the area.  Large parts of Ashdown Forest have been declared a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) for its dry and wet heath habitats.

The study has evolved out of Wealden District Council’s Core Strategy examination, where the Planning Inspector required Wealden District Council to investigate impacts of nitrogen deposition on Ashdown Forest SAC arising from additional traffic associated with an increase in development above that identified in the Core Strategy.  The SAC has been declared under the European Union Habitats Directive as Ashdown Forest represents one of the largest single blocks of lowland heath in south-east England, with both dry heaths and wet heath habitats.

Air Quality Consultants Ltd is responsible for the monitoring and modelling of air quality, while ECUS Ltd will be managing the study and undertaking ecological surveys including vegetation monitoring and habitat mapping.  The monitoring will cover more than 100 sites and measure a suite of air pollutants.  It is expected that the monitoring will continue for a number of years.  The results will be used to develop a model of how much nitrogen is being deposited to different areas of the SAC.  These results will then be linked to the findings of the ecological surveys that are examining the condition of the ecosystem, to establish the evidence of harm due to nitrogen deposition.

More information can be obtained from the Wealden Council website.


Diffusion tube monitoring site alongside road in Ashdown Forest

Construction Dust Assessments Required in London


The Mayor of London has published Supplementary Planning Guidance on the Control of Dust and Emissions During Construction and Demolition (access here).  This includes a requirement for a dust risk assessment of all major new developments; major being 10 or more dwellings or 1,000 sq metres, or more floor space for all other developments.  The dust risk assessment will determine the package of mitigation measures to accompany the application.  Ultimately the mitigation measures will need to be incorporated into an Air Quality and Dust Management Plan, to be submitted prior to works starting.  This will be ensured by way of a condition or through a s106 agreement.

The guidance is based on that issued earlier in 2014 by the Institute of Air Quality Management (IAQM).  Air Quality Consultants Ltd  was closely involved in the development of the IAQM guidance (further details here), so the Company is in a good position to carry out the necessary dust risk assessments.  Indeed it is already incorporating this in the many London assessments it carries out.  The Company also has experience in preparing the dust management plans that will subsequently be required.  These plans may incorporate a requirement for dust monitoring and again Air Quality Consultants Ltd has the necessary experience; Stephen Moorcroft (Director of the Company) chaired the IAQM working group that produced Guidance on Air Quality Monitoring in the Vicinity of Demolition and Construction Sites (available here).

Health Effects of Air Pollution in Bristol


Professor Duncan Laxen and Dr Clare Beattie of Air Quality Consultants Ltd have completed a study for Bristol City Council, which calculates the additional deaths, hospital admissions and the economic costs of air pollution in Bristol.  This work will inform the forthcoming Mayor’s Air Quality Strategy.

The study recognises that air pollution affects everyone living and working in Bristol.  Exposure to air pollutants contributes to deaths and to additional hospital admissions. These health impacts have a significant economic cost associated with them. 

The study has calculated that 188 deaths of Bristol residents (over the age of 30) can be attributed to air pollution in 2010, with a proportion (24 deaths) attributed to pollution from local road transport emissions in Bristol.  These deaths attributed to air pollution compare, on average, to 9 people killed in road traffic collisions in Bristol each year. 

In addition to deaths, 52 additional hospital admissions for breathing difficulties and 42 for heart problems can be attributed to air pollution in 2010.

The costs, of the health effects of exposure to small airborne particles are estimated at around £83 million per year.  This reflects the costs to the health services, and to society through loss of individuals’ wellbeing.

Dr Clare Beattie presented the findings of the study at the Annual Review meeting: Indoor and Outdoor Air Pollution Research in May 2014 (view here)

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