Cheshire East adopts new air quality strategy

Cheshire East Council has adopted a new air quality strategy, which it claims will be applied across all its planning and transport decision making.

The strategy will ensure that air quality is always properly considered when relevant planning decisions are taken.

It states that all developers should contribute to an air quality action plan through a formula based on the size of the scheme and the number of car parking spaces.

The strategy also states that road transport is the primary source of air pollution in the borough and that this must be reduced. The council will work with freight operators to establish appropriate truck routes and delivery routines to minimise congestion and pollution.

And drivers will also be encouraged to minimise engine idling – where engines continue to tick over in traffic queues or where stationary in driveways, at the road side or in car parks.

The strategy was adopted after an independent report was published last year, which claimed that pollution levels were downplayed by as much as 10μg/m³ in some parts of the borough between 2012 and 2014.

In July 2017, the council admitted that data from 42 diffusion tubes used to monitor air pollution within the borough had been falsified, meaning that air quality returns submitted to Defra for 2012, 2013 and 2014 had contained ‘serious errors.’

The council now has 18 declared air quality management areas, (AQMAs) in place to monitor air quality.

Cheshire East will actively promote the use of electric vehicles (EVs), including within its own transport fleets, and encourage greater use of electric cars and electric commercial vehicles across the borough, while ensuring that housing developments have a required number of electric charging points.

‘The borough, as a whole, does not have a problem with poor air quality when compared to the inner-cities but we do have pockets of heavily-trafficked roads, where there are unacceptable levels of pollutants, which can lead to health issues,’ said cabinet member for health, Cllr Liz Wardlaw.

‘Tackling poor air quality through AQMAs and an air quality strategy will play a major role in helping our residents to live long and healthy lives, stay active for longer and reduce hospital admissions.’