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Waverley Borough Council Committee System - Committee Document

Meeting of the Executive held on 10/07/2007
Extension of Farnham Air Quality Management Area



APPENDIX M
Waverley Borough Council

EXECUTIVE - 10TH JULY 2007

Title:
EXTENSION OF FARNHAM AIR QUALITY MANAGEMENT AREA
[Wards Affected: All Farnham wards, Godalming Central and Ockford, Hindhead]

Summary and purpose:

This report updates Members on the requirement to extend the Air Quality Management Area (AQMA) in Farnham. The AQMA was declared in 2005 as a result of elevated levels of Nitrogen Dioxide, mainly due to traffic emissions. The report also advises Members that a presentation will be made to the Local Strategic Partnership to engage their support for an Air Quality Action Plan. This Plan will take forward measures to tackle the air quality issues identified in Waverley’s three Air Quality Management Areas in Farnham, Godalming and Hindhead.

Environmental implications:

Some of the proposals that may be developed under the Air Quality Action Plan can help reduce consumption of fossil fuels used in transport.

The aim of the Action Plan is to take forward cost-effective and feasible measures to reduce levels of air pollutants from traffic, thereby reducing their impact on human health and the environment.

Social / community implications:

The development of an Action Plan to tackle air pollution in Farnham, Godalming and Hindhead can help improve the health of local people and potentially improve the appearance of the local area, depending on the proposals that are taken forward.

Some sustainable transport solutions that may be included in the Action Plan may help improve access to services for disadvantaged members of the local community.

Community consultation on the developing proposals to mitigate the impacts of air pollution in the Air Quality Management Areas will be a key part of achieving the aims of the Action Plan.

E-Government implications:

As part of its role in mitigating local air pollution the Council will provide up-to-date and accessible information via the website on local air pollution levels and the actions being taking to tackle this problem.


Resource and legal implications:

Staff time is the main resource required for these proposals at the outset but this can be contained within approved revenue budgets. Proposals that may be developed within the Air Quality Action Plan will require financial resources from a wide range of partners. Overseeing the development of the Action Plan is already within the remit of the relevant officer within Environmental Health.

Introduction

1. Waverley Borough Council is required under Part IV of the Environment Act 1995 to carry out reviews and assessments of air quality within the Borough. The purpose is to determine whether or not any part of the Borough is experiencing elevated levels of certain key air pollutants, which can be harmful to health particularly for older people and people with respiratory difficulties such as asthma. The acceptable levels for a number of local air pollutants are set by the Government in accordance with European legislation.

2. Where monitoring shows levels of any of the specified pollutants exceed those set by the Government, the Council must declare Air Quality Management Areas (AQMAs) and develop Action Plans to tackle these exceedences. On this basis AQMAs were declared in Farnham, Godalming and Hindhead in 2005 because of the pollutant Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) exceeding the standards that had to be achieved by 31 December 2005 (40 micrograms per cubic metre). The boundaries of the three AQMAs were delineated to enclose only the areas that were shown by modelling or monitoring to exceed this limit. As a result the Farnham AQMA is split into two discrete sections, both of which are along The Borough in the town centre. The Executive report, which details the original declaration in 2005, is attached as Annexe 1 for information. The current situation in Farnham

3. Ongoing reporting, required under the Act, has since revealed that elevated levels of NO2 are now occurring outside the previously designated Farnham AQMA. These exceedences occurred along part of East Street and in the area of The Borough not covered by the AQMA. As a result the Government’s Environment Department (DEFRA) requires that the AQMA be extended to include these areas where exceedences of NO2 are occurring.

4. It is also important that the Council considers the implications of the elevated levels of NO2 within Farnham town centre. The ‘Vision for Farnham’ project and the Urban Safety Management (USM) project have recognised that a holistic approach is required to vehicular traffic issues in Farnham Town Centre. Both of these projects were initiated by Farnham Town Council but are supported by Waverley and Surrey County Council. Currently they are seen by officers as the potentially most effective route for pursuing traffic reductions in the town centre and the area designated as an AQMA. The proposed East Street regeneration scheme has been seen as a positive step by the above projects because it can form the first phase in providing “interceptor” car parks on the periphery of the town centre. Also it provides scope for any accompanying sustainable travel measures and junction redesigns to help mitigate air quality issues within Farnham.



The proposed Air Quality Management Area Extension

5. Waverley Borough Council must extend the Farnham AQMA to encompass the points at which monitoring shows levels of Nitrogen Dioxide are exceeding the maximum levels permitted by the Government.

6. Some local authorities take a holistic approach by declaring an AQMA that includes more than just the area at which exceedences are currently occurring on the basis that air pollution is not static and can also be affected by annual and meteorological variations. Furthermore it enables a more joined up approach to be taken in the drafting of the Action Plan required by DEFRA to deal with the air quality issues identified. A proposed outline for the AQMA extension is included in Annexe 2.

7. Once the AQMA extension has been approved work can be taken forward on proposals to mitigate the air quality problems identified in Farnham as well as in Waverley’s other two AQMAs. The Action Plan has great potential to complement any proposals for more sustainable travel and improved junction layouts that are being developed as part of the East Street re-development.

8. As with the previous AQMA Declaration your officers will request the Legal Section to prepare the Orders following the Executive’s decision. The Orders will be endorsed by the Council’s seal and shall also be accompanied by a map to show the extent of the extended AQMA.

Conclusion

9. It is proposed that the Farnham Air Quality Management Area should be extended to cover a significant area of the town centre. This will enable the impact of the proposals being developed under the accompanying Air Quality Action Plan to be considered across the whole of Farnham town centre. It will also enable the impact of any proposals to be considered alongside the proposed East Street scheme with the aim of implementing measures that may achieve an improved local environment.

Recommendation

It is recommended that

1. the extension of the Farnham Air Quality Management Area be approved to encompass the boundaries set out in Annexe 2;

2. proposals to tackle the air quality issues in Waverley’s three AQMAs be noted, including those resulting from both the Farnham Vision project and the Urban Safety Management project which will be discussed and taken forward through the Local Strategic Partnership along with any progress on the Action Plan being reported back to the Executive.

Background Papers (DoEL)

There are no background papers (as defined by Section 100D(5) of the Local Government Act 1972) relating to this report.


CONTACT OFFICERS:

Name: Anne Sayer Telephone: 01483 523117
E-mail: asayer@waverley.gov.uk



Comms/exec/2007-08/048