Dartford borough council has contacted the government for clarification as to whether it could be required to establish a clean air zone if predictions over improvements in air quality in the borough are not met.
The council had expected to be named within the governments air quality plan as having to take action over air quality, due to exceedances of air pollution limits for nitrogen dioxide at the A282 Dartford Crossing.
According to the council, early in 2017 it had received assurances from Defra that the road would be included in the baseline model for the air quality plan, as monitoring data had showed that the road had significantly breached air pollution limits.
However, the A282 was not listed among the 10 roads on the Strategic Road Network where exceedances are predicted to persist.
In documents submitted to a meeting of the councils policy overview committee on Tuesday, the council noted: The action plan shows that only one road in Dartford is predicted to be in excess of the limit value for NO2 (40ug/m3 annual mean) in 2017 and none by 2018. This seems highly optimistic when compared to monitored data that has showed in 2016 that 20 out of 54 monitoring locations recorded levels of NO2 in excess of this limit value with the highest recorded level being 58ug/m3.
Dartford has expressed concern that the modelling used for the production of the UK Action Plan significantly underestimates pollution levels in the Borough and has contacted Defra to establish whether the council would be required to establish a Clean Air Zone should the predictions within the plan not come to fruition.
The report added: Officers have also made representations to government/Defra regarding the discrepancy between the modelled data used in the UK Action Plan and the actual readings as measured by the Council on the ground.
Without a robust understanding of actual air pollution levels in the Borough, it is not possible to determine the appropriate actions/measures required to address it and there is unlikely to be any financial or other assistance from government to implement measures. The discrepancy therefore needs to be resolved and the appropriate air pollution levels agreed with government.