Views sought on air quality planning guidance

Views are being sought on revised guidance on air quality considerations in development planning for local authorities, developers and consultants by the Institute of Air Quality Management (IAQM) and Environmental Protection UK (EPUK).

The revised guidance document – ‘Land-Use Planning and Development Control: Planning for Air Quality’ – was launched for consultation last week (December 18), with comments invited from air quality and planning professionals before the closing date of February 16 2015.

The IAQM/ EPUK draft air quality planning and development guidance has been launched for consultation

The IAQM/ EPUK draft air quality planning and development guidance has been launched for consultation

The 28-page guidance document seeks to ensure that air quality is “adequately considered in land-use planning and development control purposes” in England and Wales, although it does not cover specific assessment of “odour or construction dust effects that some developments give rise to”.

According to the guidance “good spatial planning can reduce exposure to air pollution”, while good design can both “reduce pollutant emissions and human exposure”.

The document also includes a table estimating the likely impact on overall air quality depending on the percentage change in monitored levels due to development work at a given site, with impacts on air quality ranging from ‘negligible’ to ‘substantial’ (see below).

AQ planning guidnce table

Table from the IAQM/EPUK draft guidance document (click to enlarge)

However, the guidance states that these impact descriptors are “not, of themselves, a clear and unambiguous guide” and that “whilst it may be that there are ‘slight’, ‘moderate’, or ‘substantial’ impacts at one of more receptors, the overall effect may not be judged as being significant”.

Revision

A joint letter from IAQM and policy analysis charity EPUK accompanying the consultation document explains that since previous revised guidance was published in 2010 “there have been many changes to policy and legislation”.

The letter adds: “We have also recognised that there has been a view expressed by some of our members that the guidance should be revised to enable better judgements in the planning process to be made and to achieve better outcomes. A workshop held in May 2013 confirmed this view.”

As a result, a working group jointly chaired by IAQM chair Roger Barrowcliffe and Stephen Moorcroft of Air Quality Consultants was set up last year to produce a revised document, on which views are now being sought.

Other members of the working group include representatives from Public Health England, the Environment Agency, various local authorities, Ricardo-AEA, Arup, Jacobs and Clean Air in London campaigner Simon Birkett.