Report to go before Lewes councillors tomorrow which suggests that East Sussex town should be declared an Air Quality Management Area
An Air Quality Management Area (AQMA) is expected to be declared in Newhaven due to increasing air pollution from traffic in the East Sussex town.
According to detailed assessment of the town’s air quality due to go before Lewes district council’s cabinet tomorrow (February 13), annual mean concentrations of nitrogen dioxide at three monitoring sites in Newhaven may have breached national objectives in 2010.
The national objective for annual mean concentrations of nitrogen dioxide is 40 micrograms per cubic metre. However, raw diffusion tube monitoring data shows that the annual average breached this objective at several roadside sites: Lewes Road (42.9 micrograms); 9 Southway (60.2 micrograms); and 16 Southway (52.8 mirograms).
The ‘Detailed Review and Assessment of Air Quality in Newhaven’ and an accompanying report will recommend that councillors at tomorrow’s meeting give approval for the assessment to be sent to Defra.
Defra is then ‘likely’ to require the district council to declare an Air Quality Management Area (AQMA) in Newhaven due to increasing traffic pollution, according to the report.
Declaration of an AQMA enables local authorities to more closely monitor pollution levels as well as allowing them to bid for special government funding for schemes to improve air quality.
The report attributes the increase in pollution levels to a combination of high traffic volumes and congested roads, ‘particularly at certain times of the day and when closure of the swing bridge may cause traffic jams’.
However, the report says the declaration of an AQMA ‘should have no harmful effect on regeneration prospects, as local air quality ‘is already a material planning consideration’.
The detailed assessment notes that several future developments in the area could also lead to an increase in traffic around the Newhaven gyratory road system, including an application to build a supermarket and 180 residential units at the Eastside site.
The energy-from-waste facility at North Quay nearby, operational since 2010, is thought to have increased traffic levels as well as contributing to nitrogen dioxide emissions from the facility itself.
However, the detailed assessment concludes that the emissions from the incinerator are ‘far less significant when compared to the quantity of emissions from existing traffic sources’.
It also adds that the ‘vast majority of waste vehicle movements servicing this installation (the incinerator) are required to use the A26 and not the A259 and therefore the impact of these movements on the levels of pollution on the gyratory are likely to be negligible’.
Part IV of the Environment Act 1995, and the Local Air Quality Management
Framework, places a statutory duty on all local authorities to periodically review and assess the quality of air within their boundaries, both currently and for the future.
Where results indicate that air quality standards are at risk of being reached or exceeded, Defra requires local authorities to undertake a detailed assessment of the levels of pollution in that area.
Detailed assessments of Newhaven Town were sent to Defra in 2007 and 2010, but on both occasions it was concluded that it would not be necessary to declare an AQMA. However, the report notes that traffic levels have since increased.
The report notes that it usually takes around three to six months for Defra to appraise the assessment and another three to six months for the council to consult on the geographical area of the AQMA.
An AQMA was declared in nearby Lewes in 2005 following a detailed assessment of the town centre by the district council which raised concerns about the proximity of residential properties to road traffic.
More information on air quality monitoring in the area is available on the Lewes district council website.