Waverley admits errors in 2016 air quality report

Waverley borough council has launched a ‘comprehensive’ review of its air quality monitoring arrangements, after an independent assessment found that its 2016 Air Quality Report was inaccurate.

Last week the council confirmed that an assessment of its 2016 report had found that ‘bias adjustment factors’ had been applied incorrectly.

Farnham is one of the towns detailed within the 2016 report

Bias adjustments can be used by local authorities to adjust data where interference may be skewing readings.

The report, which was initially published in May and covers 2015, suggested that air quality had improved across the borough, although some areas, in particular in the town of Farnham, had ‘slightly’ exceeded annual mean levels for nitrogen dioxide emissions.

However, concerns were raised by David Harvey, an air quality consultant who lives and works in the local area, that adjustments made to the data to account for potential interference in the readings had not been applied correctly.

Mr Harvey argued that the application of adjustment factors by Waverley in the 2016 air quality report had underestimated air quality levels in the borough.

Report

In response to the concerns, the council commissioned an independent review into the report, findings of which were published last week, and confirmed that the bias factor used by the council had been incorrect.

In a statement, the council said: “An independent assessment of the Waverley Borough Council 2016 Air Quality Report has now been concluded and has shown that the bias factor used by the council is incorrect.

“A subsequent investigation by the council has led us to believe that the data from January 2016 to September 2017 is wrong.

“The council is immediately starting a comprehensive audit of our air quality monitoring and reporting arrangements, as well as ensuring that the data is correct from now on. We are using an independent auditor, independent air quality and monitoring specialists and Defra to assist with this urgent review of our current arrangements.”

Following the review, the council has said it will bring forward recommendations to ensure that its processes are “enhanced and more robust”.