A report commissioned by Defra suggests that scrapping legislation controlling smoke from chimneys and furnaces could impact on PM10 emissions unless new legislation is introduced
Removing the Clean Air Act (CAA) 1993 could lead to an increase in particulate matter emissions unless new legislation is introduced, according to a government funded report.
Written by air quality consultants Ricardo-AEA on behalf of the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), the report considers the impact of removing or amending the CAA as part of a drive to cut government red tape.
The CAA was introduced to address air pollution from smog caused by widespread burning of coal for residential heating and by industry. It targets smoke emissions from residential and non-residential chimneys and furnaces.
The report estimates that removing CAA requirements for approval of chimney heights for small boilers could potentially lead to high local air quality concentrations in excess of objectives and EU limit values for nitrogen oxides.
However, the report said there would be little change in nitrogen dioxide concentrations and no additional exceedences of air quality limits for the pollutant resulting from removal of the CAA.
Defra is reviewing and consulting on removing or amending the main provisions of the CAA as part of the government’s Red Tape Challenge to cut legislation that is unnecessary or not working (see airqualitynews.com story).
As a result the report, ‘Assessment of the effectiveness of measures under the Clean Air Act 1993’, was commissioned by Defra last year. However, it was only published on the Defra website on Wednesday (March 20).
Provisions of the CAA have been reviewed to identify potential changes, which include revocation of measures or changes to provide more focus on air quality and impacts on public health.
The report states that the removal of Smoke Control Area provisions in the CAA could have ‘significant’ impacts on national emissions of benzo(a)pyrene, and both particulate matter PM10 and PM2.5.
However, by also applying national emissions controls on solid domestic fuel appliances to match controls in the Smoke Control Area provisions, the report suggests there is in fact ‘potential for some benefits to national emissions’ of these pollutants.
Considering a ‘PM reduction scenario’ whereby the CAA is scrapped but smoke control criteria is instead applied on a national basis, the report states: ‘There are no exceedences predicted for PM10, PM2.5 and nitrogen dioxide under the changes to the CAA for the PM emission reduction scenario and there are fewer projected exceedences for BaP.’
The CAA, which has its origins in Acts passed in 1956 and 1968, covers England, Wales and Scotland and was introduced to address air pollution from smog caused by widespread burning of coal for residential hearing and by industry.
It gives powers to local authorities to control domestic and industrial smoke to improve local air quality and meet EU air quality standards for sulphur dioxide and particulate matter. It enables councils to create ‘smoke control areas’ and order the use of cleaner fuels in these areas.
Measures contained in the current Clean Air Act include:
The report is available on the Defra website. Its authors were John Abbott, Christopher Conolly, Sally Cooke, Neil Passant, Robert Stewart, Anne Wagner of Ricardo-AEA.
A timetable for cutting air quality red tape was revealed by Defra in September 2012, which includes plans for a consultation in May 2013 followed by regulatory changes in late 2013 and early 2014 (see airqualitynews.com story).