Organisations from the farming, wood recycling and planning sectors have had their say on the government’s Clean Air Strategy.
The draft Strategy, launched for consultation in May, commits to creating a ‘new legal air quality framework’ for tackling air pollution, with a focus on non-transport sources including domestic fuels, agriculture and static equipment (see airqualitynews.com story).
Consultation on the plans closed yesterday, ahead the expected release of full proposals later in 2018 or early 2019.
Among those to respond to the consultation was the Wood Recyclers Association – WRA – the trade body representing businesses reclaiming waste wood through applications such as chipboard manufacturing and biomass energy recovery.
Within the strategy, Defra has promised action around the burning of domestic fuels such as wood and coal, including prohibiting some of the most polluting fuels from the market and ensuring that ‘only the cleanest stoves’ are available to buyers.
The WRA said it was broadly supportive of the measures outlined in the strategy, but said that wood recyclers were keen to draw a clear distinction over the emissions from the burning of wood domestically and in commercial facilities.
Julia Turner, Executive Director of the WRA, said Chapter IV IED [Industrial Emissions Directive] compliant boilers are ‘in a totally different league’ to domestic wood burners, as well as being licensed to burn post-consumer waste wood that has been properly processed to specification.
She said: “These boilers are regulated 24 hours a day, seven days a week. They also possess technology which ensures that their emissions are within strict tolerances, thus protecting the air we breathe.â€?
In its response, WRA said that the main focus of the strategy in tackling biomass emissions should be on educating the public to burn clean, dry wood and on regulating the waste management sector to ensure that, if waste wood is being used, it is clean and untreated.
The organisation has also called for the acceptance that mobile processing machinery, predominantly forklifts, excavators and loading shovels using diesel, are ‘fit for purpose’ and may be required at some sites.
On agriculture, the Strategy promises further action to reduce ammonia emissions – which are largely associated with the spreading of fertiliser – including potential maximum limits for the application of the material.
This follows on from a Code of Good Agricultural Practice (COGAP) published last month, setting out ‘simple steps’ farmers can take to restrict ammonia emissions (see airqualitynews.com story).
The Tenant Farmers Association (TFA) was among the farming industry bodies to respond to the Strategy consultation, acknowledging that the agricultural industry ‘must play its part’ in reducing emissions.
However, organisation warned that the full Strategy ‘must consider the impact legislation would have on short term tenants and their lack of ability to plan for long term investments in infrastructure without the support of landlords’.
TFA farm policy adviser, Lynette Steel said “There is no doubt that the agricultural industry must play it’s part in helping to reduce emissions however we urge the Government to understand that further UK based research into managing emissions is needed before introducing legislation.â€?
“The COGAP for Reducing Ammonia Emissions published in July will help to bring the issue of reducing air pollution to the fore and start a change in culture. It is vital that any targets set by Government should be realistic and not have a negative effect on farm competitiveness.â€?
Among the other organisations to have issued its response to the strategy, the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) was critical of the recently published National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) for missing the opportunity to tighten the need for local authorities to make transport decisions that support sustainable settlement growth.
The Institute claimed that the Scottish Government’s strategy for cleaner air is ‘much clearer’ on the role that planning can play in shaping sustainable settlement patterns and promoting a shift away from the car towards public and active transport.
According to RTPI, government should at least aim for new developments to be “air quality neutral by ensuring that planning authorities have the resources to develop integrated spatial maps of land use, transport infrastructure and air quality, to shape the location and form of development, and to make investment in mitigation.