Somerset council has published its draft county-wide air quality strategy, which will aim to increase communications around the causes and impact of air pollution across the region.
Developed by the Somerset Air Quality Steering Group, which comprises the county and a number of the region’s district councils, the Strategy sets out a number of steps being taken across the county to tackle air pollution.
Accoriding to the county council, which launched the strategy for consultation yesterday, air quality in Somerset is ‘generally good’, but there are some urban areas where traffic-related pollution exceeds legal limits in Taunton and Yeovil.
There are other urban locations where future development has the potential to lead to increased pollution, potentially breaching limits.
244 deaths annually in Somerset are attributable to small particles (PM2.5), with additional deaths attributable to nitrogen dioxides, it has claimed.
Communication with residents is among the key recommendations for action within the strategy, with a focus on developing the Somerset Air Quality website into a ‘high quality, comprehensive single point of access for all on air quality in Somerset’.
The council has said it will also Investigate options for consistent communication of the links between health, transport and air quality through social media and local press articles.
Other recommendations include having a consistent approach to requiring air quality assessments as part of planning applications for major new developments, by using the EPUK “Land Use and Development Control: Planning for Air Qualityâ€? as the default guidance in relation to assessing the impacts of large developments on local air quality.
Licensing and financial approaches will also be looked at to accelerate progress towards use of cleaner vehicles; and monitoring of very fine particulate pollution.
Announcing the launch of the consultation, Councillor Christine Lawrence, Cabinet Member for Public Health and Wellbeing, Somerset county council said: “We are very lucky in Somerset not to suffer from the poor air quality that sometimes afflicts nearby cities such as Bristol. But we do have some hotspots, and even where EU standards are met, at certain times and places, when unfavourable weather and traffic conditions coincide, air at busy roads and junctions is certainly not clean.
“Many may not realise that the people inside cars are often the worst exposed, because the air intakes at the front of the car pull in air from the exhaust pipe of the car in front. We can all help to reduce this burden on public health in the choices we make.â€?
The consultation period runs until the end of September.
Somerset Air Quality Strategy consultation