Government Plans for Tackling Air Quality Released

The Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has recently released a Draft Air Quality Plan to set out what the government is doing, and intends to do, to meet the European Union limit values for nitrogen dioxide (NO2) as soon as possible.

The document has the potential to affect future development and industrial facilities throughout the country so we have identified the major points that may be important in future years.

What are the major changes set out in the plan?

DEFRA highlight a number of key goals which stand out as themes throughout the plan. These include:

  • Designation of London Low Emission Zone style Clean Air Zones to reduce emissions in areas where pollution levels are already high.
  • Improvement of road layouts in order to reduce congestion and therefore high emissions from slow moving traffic.
  • Improvement of public transport and promotion of active transport, encouraging cycling and walking with improved bicycle lanes and walking paths.
  • A move towards real world emissions testing, allowing for a realistic measurement of vehicle emissions reflecting emissions outside of laboratory testing conditions.
  • A gradual transition replacing petrol and diesel with electric engine vehicles. DEFRA set out the aim of every car and van in the country being a zero emission vehicle by 2050.

The changes and your site

Land development

Existing planning policies and frameworks relating to new developments will largely be retained. The plan emphasises the importance of considering air quality early in proposals, allowing sensitive planning and consideration of potential impacts. The general changes highlighted above, however, are likely to lead to a greater emphasis on sustainable transport from Local Authorities, and a greater requirement to evidence its inclusion within proposals. The promotion of zero emission vehicles, for example, will mean including electric vehicle charging points in your development plan could cast the application in a positive light.

Industrial Facilities

Despite the focus on NO2 from transport, industrial contributions are also a major source of emissions and are a key target for action against high ambient pollutant concentrations. Industrial sites continue to be subject to requirements of the Industrial Emissions Directive, and Local Authorities will continue regulation of smaller installations. The upcoming Medium Combustion Plant Directive will also introduce a new system providing emissions limits for plants of 1-50MW. The directive is likely to come into force in November 2015, with variable time scales for meeting emission criteria for different sites.

Here at Redmore Environmental, our efforts to maintain awareness of the governments focus in relation to air quality ensures we can provide you with the best possible advice to avoid regulatory burden and provide a service which is completely focussed on our clients’ needs. Please get in touch with us today to discuss how the new plans may affect you.

A copy of the plans can be downloaded from here.

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