To receive a presentation from the Operational Services Manager, Colin Alborough and Environment and Airport Monitoring Officer, Richard Ward on air pollution issues across the Borough.
The Committee welcomed Operational Services Manager, Colin Alborough, and Environment and Airport Monitoring Officer, Richard Ward, who were in attendance to give a presentation on air pollution issues across the Borough.
Mr. Ward, gave an overview of the team that sat within Operational Services. The Environmental Control and Pollution Team covered several other areas in addition to air quality management these included, statutory nuisance, noise nuisance and animal licensing. It was noted that Mr. Ward was the lead officer for local air quality management and also had responsibility for air quality issues relating to commercial and domestic bonfires, planning consultations and policy and was the regulator for 27 permitted installations across the borough for the Local Air Pollution Prevention and Control (LAPPC) process.
Air pollution was very varied and complex, with a large number of contributors. Pollutants could have both short and longer term effect on the health of the population and had the most effect on the most vulnerable.
The team worked within the remit of frameworks set out by the Environment Act and the National Air Quality Strategy. It was noted that monitoring in Rushmoor was primarily based around nitrogen dioxide, for which there were currently 20 monitoring sites across the Borough. Reports on the data from this monitoring, which showed a gradual reduction over time across all sites, were submitted to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) on an annual basis.
The Committee were also advised of ongoing projects on the M3 and A331. The A331 project had commenced in 2017 and through partnership working with neighbouring authorities, work had been undertake to reduce nitrogen dioxide on the A331. A speed restriction of 50mph had been implemented in June 2019 on a 1.8km stretch of the road to assist in reducing nitrogen dioxide levels.
Looking to the future, it was advised that consideration would be given to the content of the Environment Bill due to be signed off later in 2021, this was expected to include longer term targets for air quality measures and an annual mean level for PM2.5 (particulate matter) levels. The Council’s Climate Change Action Plan would also impact on the work of the team.
The Committee discussed the presentation and raised a number of queries.
In relation to the impact of the pandemic on pollution levels it was noted that it had been too early to determine the long term effects. However after the initial lockdown levels had been slowly creeping back up to normal.
With regard to having a local impact on nitrogen dioxide levels, it was noted that objectives in the Council’s Climate Change Action Plan and work carried out by Hampshire County Council with school children to educate and raise awareness on the subject of air pollution would help on a local level to improve air quality.
In response to a query regarding wood burners and their impact on air pollution, it was noted that wood burning stoves contributed to a third of PM2.5 in the air. It was thought that moving forward, smoke control areas and regulation on target levels may be introduced to control the use of these heat sources.
The Chairman thanked Mr. Ward for his presentation.