To note the air quality dispersion modelling exercise that is being undertaken to inform updates to the Air Quality Action Plan.
The following question had been received by Kath Sanders, a member of the public, in relation to this agenda item.
“Please could officers confirm if, in Section 4 ("Options Analysis and Proposal"), the scenarios for the informative modelling will (or can) include the proposed increase in population and traffic flows as a result of Local Plan proposals?”
The Chair advised that, as suggested by Kath Sanders, the response to the question would be included in the officer’s presentation of the item.
The Principal Pollution Officer, presented her report, outlining the scenarios that would be undertaken to inform air quality dispersion modelling through consultation with Surrey County Council transport planners and a specialist technical consultant. The outcomes of the modelling exercise will inform policy and measures to improve local air quality. A briefing session would be arranged with the Environment and Sustainability Committee to discuss the findings and seek their views for actions to reduce pollution.
The Committee noted that the Mayor of London’s consultation on extending the Ultra-Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) could impact on the borough and that the Council will submit their concerns when responding to the consultation process which is expected later this year. The Chair advised he also proposed to write to Transport for London regarding concerns over the impacts of the expansin.
In response to the question from Kath Sanders, the Principal Pollution Officer advised that the Air Quality Action Plan (AQAP) was for a period of up to 5 years whereas the Local Plan was for a period of 15 years to 2037, so the site allocations identified in the Local Plan would be unlikely to be built within the time period covered by the AQAP and therefore not included in the modelling exercises. However, the Local Plan would include a human health assessment that would consider local air quality and would be subject to the Local Plan approval and examination process.
Questions were raised regarding access to other monitoring equipment in the borough and whether information was made available to the Council from those monitors. Areas of particular concern were the areas close to the Eco Park in Charlton Lane, Shepperton and also the Crooked Billet by-pass. In response, the Principal Pollution Officer advised that only limited data was available to her for the Eco Park area as the facility was regulated by the Environment Agency, but the information available was encouraging. With regard to the Crooked Billet area, that fell under the jurisdiction of National Highways and was not available to her, but any access to data via County Councillors would be welcomed. One of the challenges faced when looking at the data was taking into account the effect of the pandemic when traffic volumes had significantly decreased.
A member asked if the health assessment would follow national rather than WHO guidelines. The Pollution Control Officer advised that the plan was bound by DEFRA guidance levels and the Air Quality Standards set out in legislation rather than World Health Organisation (WHO) guidance levels. DEFRA are reviewing national targets for particulate matter, in accordance with a current consultation exercise. The expectation was that a new national target for particulate matter would be set according to the levels given in the previous set of air quality guidelines published by WHO, prior to the current guidelines that were published WHO in 2021. The updated particulate matter target is required by the Environment Act 2021.
Postscript: If members or constituents wish to respond to the DEFRA consultation on particulate matter air quality targets, the consultation can be accessed here: https://consult.defra.gov.uk/natural-environment-policy/consultation-on-environmental-targets/
It was confirmed that budget had been allocated for the initial AQAP modelling exercise. Funds had been set aside for the consultation process, how far this might progress in this calendar year depended on the modelling and may depend on the results and actions proposed.
The Committee resolved to note the report.