To seek approval to consult on the draft North Tyneside Air Quality Strategy 2023-2028.
Cabinet received a report seeking approval to consult on the draft North Tyneside Air Quality Strategy 2023-2028.
Air quality had an effect on the environment, human health and global warming.The National Clean Air Strategy indicated that air pollution was the top environmental risk to human health in the UK, and the fourth greatest threat to public health after cancer, heart disease and obesity. According to the latest data published in the Public Health Outcomes Framework (PHOF) 5% of deathsin England were attributable to long-term exposure to particulate air pollution. Poor air quality shortens lives and contributes towards chronic illness as long-term exposure to air pollution can cause chronic conditions such as cardiovascular and respiratory diseases as well as lung cancer, leading to reduced life expectancy.
In recognition of the impacts of air quality on health, the Local Air Quality Management (LAQM) policy guidance 2022 (‘the guidance’) published by the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs requires local authorities that have not had to designate an area an ‘Air Quality Management Area’ and thereafter been required to produce an ‘Air Quality Action Plan’ to now produce a local Air Quality Strategy for addressing air pollution in their area from 2023. This Strategy was intended to bring together all existing policies and strategies into one comprehensive focused document.
As the Authority had not had to declare an Air Quality Management Area and produce a resulting Air Quality Action Plan, it is one of the local authorities required to produce a local Air Quality Strategy. There was no set format for the Air Quality Strategy and in developing the Strategy the Authority has been able to draw on the content in the last Annual Status Report on Air Quality and other plans such as the Authority’s Transport Strategy. The guidance encouraged local authorities to take early preventative action to improve local air quality, avoid exceedances of the air quality objectives set out in The Air Quality (England) Regulations 2000 and reduce the long-term health impacts associated with air pollution. It was anticipated that this approach would enable local authorities to adopt measures that reduced the need for costly health interventions at a later date.
The Air Quality Strategy was intended to set out the aims of the Authority to maintain and improve air quality and show how collectively the Authority would work to improve air quality. The aims included how to encourage change to achieve good air quality. As well as setting out actions to reduce pollutants which would improve health, the Air Quality Strategy would set out the actions which would be taken to help to reduce global warming associated from gases such as carbon dioxide, nitrogen dioxide and particulates. The Air Quality Strategy would provide greater focus on how small improvements in air quality would impact public health outcomes.
The Air Quality Strategy linked into existing policies including planning, transport and the Carbon Net Zero 2030 policies adopted by the Authority aimed at improving air quality across the Borough. All policies adopted by the Authority must consider the impact on the environment and the Authority recognised the need to reduce its own carbon footprint, and to consider measures that would promote and support a reduction in greenhouse gases. The policies and teams would assist as follows: ‘Transport Strategy - aims to reduce congestion and promote cleaner transport. Planning Policy - seeks to maintain and improve air quality with the expectation that developers will assess the impact of any development on air quality and the environment and to provide mitigation measures. Environmental Health will act as the consultees on reviewing such air quality assessments. Public Health will provide an important role in demonstrating how pollutants impact on health and ensure adequate focus given to health inequalities.
Development of the draft Strategy involved the establishment of a steering group made up of officers from different areas of the Authority who were currently involved with actions that contributed towards the improvement of air quality of the Borough. This included officers from Environmental Health, Public Health, Transport, Planning and Sustainability. The aim of the group was to identify aims and actions that regulated or encouraged reductions in air pollution and ensured appropriate mitigation measures were in place to reduce emissions and air quality exposure.
Progress on the Strategy would be reported annually through the Annual Air Quality Status Report which it proposed would be produced and published by the Director of Public Health. The draft Air Quality Strategy was attached at Appendix 1. The aims of the strategy were:
· To maintain and improve air quality and health
· To reduce transport related emissions
· To review air quality in planning policy, development and land use
· Reviewing and promoting reductions in emission from industrial processes
· Promoting public health and improving health outcomes linked to air quality
· Encouraging public participation and Informed choices on air quality and Health
· To review and promote benefits of carbon Net Zero Action Plan on air quality
· To ensure the Authority works collaboratively.
The Annual Status Report in addition to providing a review of the air quality in the borough, would provide a progress report on the actions set out in the local Air Quality Strategy. The Annual Status Report would consider new or changing sources of emissions and monitoring would be focused on any polluting areas.
The Strategy would be reviewed at least every 5 years. Currently, local authorities had a duty under the Environment Act 1995 to monitor and review air quality against short and long-term exposure objectives and to publish an Annual Status Report that was submitted each year to the Secretary of State. This report had consistently established that the pollutants of main concern in the Borough were fine particulates and nitrogen dioxide that arose from the burning of fossil fuels. Traffic was the predominant source of pollution in the Borough. The monitoring of air quality in North Tyneside between 2017 to 2021 had shown that North Tyneside had no exceedances in the UK air quality objectives set out in the Regulations referred to above.
The Environment Act 1995 requires local authorities to declare an Air Quality Management Area if exceedances in the air quality objectives are found in their area and to produce an Air Quality Action Plan. Although the Authority had not needed to declare an Air Quality Management Area within the Borough, it continued to actively monitor air quality through 29 indicative monitoring sites located in the Borough. The locations were chosen based on potential exposure to high levels of pollutants and were predominantly sites located in residential areas adjacent to roads that had a high traffic flow.
An engagement period of six weeks from 30 January 2023 to 6 March 2023 would enable responses to be received from those wishing to comment on the draft Strategy. External engagement would involve consultation with the members of the public, businesses and interest groups with responses reported back to Cabinet at the conclusion of the consultation exercise seeking approval for the adoption of the Strategy.
Cabinet considered the following decision options: to approve the recommendations set out in paragraph 1.2 of the report; or alternatively, to not accept the recommendations; or to instruct officers to make amendments to the Strategy and to bring a further report to Cabinet to consider those amendments before consultation commences.
Resolvedthat (1)the Director of Public Health be authorised to commence public consultation on the draft North Tyneside Air Quality Strategy 2023-2028 attached at Appendix 1 to the report;
(2) a further report be received by Cabinet at the conclusion of the public consultation process when Cabinet having regard to any consultation responses would be asked to agree to the adoption of the Air Quality Strategy; and
(3) the Director for Director of Public Health, in consultation with the Cabinet member for Environment, be authorised to approve and publish an Annual Status Report on Air Quality and to submit the report to the Secretary of State on behalf of the Authority.
(Reason for decision: To allow engagement to be commenced which will enable the Authority to have a considered and approved Strategy in place. This will ensure that the Authority meets the requirements set out in the Local Air Quality Management Policy guidance and that the subject of air quality is promoted and remains high on local agendas.)