The Institute of Air Quality Management (IAQM) has recently launched the new document ‘Guidance on the Assessment of Mineral Dust Impacts for Planning’.
After several years of development, a working group of air quality professionals and regulatory bodies have provided new guidelines which provide advice on robust and consistent good-practice approaches to assess the impacts of mineral dust.
The UK extracts nearly 200 million tonnes of solid mineral each year. This extraction causes small dust particles to be released as emissions which can remain airborne for long periods of time. The need for detailed assessment arises due to the potential for complaints regarding dust accumulation and poor health.
The national Planning Practice Guidance (PPG) for England states that:
“Where dust emissions are likely to arise, mineral operators are expected to prepare a dust assessment study”
However, the PPG does not go into detail on the mechanics of dust assessments for these applications. In the absence of detailed guidance, and the need to create criteria for describing dust impacts, the IAQM has produced their most recent document.
Mineral Dust Assessment
To determine the effects of mineral dust on people and the environment, the guidance takes several factors into consideration. Some of these include the location of local receptors such as houses, schools and workplaces, their relative sensitivities to mineral dust deposition, a prediction of meteorological characteristics and a conclusion on the overall significance of the effects on air quality. These factors can be determined by the information that the guidance provides in various tables throughout the document.
The guidance will affect proposals for mineral extraction sites, especially those that remove over 30,000 tonnes of mineral per year, and developers may need to adjust or increase site mitigation to account for this. It also provides consultants with guidelines and assessment requirements from a recognised institute, ensuring high quality standards in knowledge and expertise.
The guidance can be downloaded from here.