Air Quality Annual Status Report
The Committee were presented with the Air Quality Annual Status Report. The report was for information only, to update Members on the Air Quality Annual Status and to inform them of the direct links that air quality had with climate change.
The Environmental Protection Team Leader explained that the report was submitted to Defra in June and was a good summary of what had been achieved and what was planned for the coming year.
The Environmental Protection Team Leader highlighted key points from the report:
- Members were informed that two types of monitoring occurred within Gravesham to measure the levels of Nitrogen Dioxide. Continuous monitoring of Nitrogen Dioxide occurred using air quality analysers. These were required for areas deemed by Defra to be Air Quality Management Areas (AQMAs). These were located close to the A2 trunk road and the Northfleet industrial area. For areas within the borough with heavy traffic flows, background levels of pollutants and or where property development was likely, there were 71 passive diffusions tubes located to monitor nitrogen dioxide.
- It was noted that there had been an improvement in air quality during Covid19, but this was due to the reduction in travel. The current figures although higher, were in line with pre-pandemic levels.
- The Committee were informed that moving forward The Council would continue to use the passive monitoring network to determine whether AQMAs needed amending or whether there are any new areas of concern.
- The Council would continue to work with partners KCC and National Highways to improve air quality. The Environmental Protection Team Leader informed Members that a new action plan was being drafted, which would require input from the Committee in due course.
The Chair noted that air quality was a national issue and queried whether the air quality and subsequent health, was poorer in areas of deprivation. The Environmental Protection Team Leader advised that although some areas such as London fitted this model, Gravesham did not follow that trend. The areas of poor air quality in Gravesham were not limited to deprived areas.
The Committee were invited to make comment and to have their questions answered:
- Members queried whether the odours from Northfleet Sewage Works fell under the remit of air quality. They were advised that whilst complaints of this nature could be investigated under nuisance powers, it was mainly a planning consideration in not approving developments in the vicinity of such sites. She went on to say that GBC worked with the sewages works, giving them dates and time of any complaints to pinpoint the issue.
- The Committee had concerns about air pollution impacting the health of the large proportion of residents living in the urban areas of Gravesham, especially with new developments being approved around the town centre and ring road. The Environmental Protection Team leader informed Members that both the statistic modelling and air monitoring undertaken, were stipulated by Defra and were very accurate in their findings. She assured the Committee that pollution levels in the town did not exceed objectives. She advised that nitrogen dioxide levels were exceeded in certain areas of the ring road and on the A2 trunk road. Members were also informed that overall levels were better than a number of other local towns such as Maidstone.
- Members considered the Council’s carbon neutral pledge alongside the need to develop properties within the town centre. It was felt that thought should be given to an air quality indictor for the public to view. It was suggested this could not only help to engage with residents on the matter, but also assist from a planning perspective and lead to less objection relating to air quality. The Environmental Protection Team Leader advised there was a website called www.kentair.org.uk that provided this information to the public. It was noted by Members however that in order to engage, it was important to promote the webpage, so people were aware of this.
The Regulatory Services Manager advised the Committee that he would liaise with the Communications team to promote the Kent Air website to residents. The Environmental Protection Team leader also informed Members that she would liaise with the Communications team in relation to an education tool kit for children and Clean Air Week.
The Chair praised the report as a good news story and agreed that with the Council’s carbon neutral pledge, the public should be made aware of the air quality levels within the borough and it should be highlighted, that levels were a great improvement on how they had been in the past.
The Committee noted the report.