[At the discretion of the Chairman, item 5 on the agenda – the Enhanced Air Quality Monitoring Proposal – Pre-Decision Scrutiny – was considered on the before item 4 – Housing Policies – Pre-Decision Scrutiny.]
The Committee was informed that the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) confirmed that Worcestershire Regulatory Services (WRS) had been successful in a County wide air quality grant application to cover a significant proportion of costs for enhanced air quality monitoring equipment across Worcestershire. As part of this, WRS had requested grant funding for two enhanced air quality monitors in Redditch, in locations that had yet to be determined.
Members were informed that 10 percent match funding for the installation and operation of the enhanced air quality monitors project would be required from each district council. It was therefore proposed that the Council provide £2,300 match funding, to be funded from Corporate Earmarked Reserves over the life of the project.
Officers explained the different techniques used to monitor levels of nitrogen oxide and other air pollutants. It was explained that the standard technique for monitoring nitrogen oxide emissions was through utilising passive diffusion tube monitoring techniques. However, across the Worcestershire more enhanced techniques had been trialled, including electrochemical gas measuring system, that were able to provide detailed air quality measurements in real-time. Part of this project was to begin investigating and investing in these new solutions.
Following the presentation, Members asked questions to which the following responses were provided:
· There were currently no Air Quality Management Areas (AQMAs) declared in Redditch, which were areas where the local air quality was unlikely to meet the Government's national air quality objectives.
· There had not been much monitoring of particulate matter in the Borough, and there had been some concern around the air quality at older, terraced-housing streets. It was noted that no routine excess of pollution that would necessitate declaring AQMA had been currently identified in Redditch.
· It was explained that if issues with air quality were identified, there was a requirement on the Council to declare the AQMA in the areas affected.
· It was highlighted that part of the DEFRA project was about influencing behaviour change, for example with regards to such issues as school run traffic which was resulting in poor air quality around schools.
· There were to be 24 air quality monitors across the County providing pollution data in real-time. There was currently real-time air monitoring station data for some locations in the County, for example for Kidderminster-Stourport Road. The real-time data was available on the WRS website, under the air quality tab.
· The two air quality monitors to be installed in Redditch would be the new types of monitors utilising the more enhanced air monitoring techniques. The cost of these monitors (purchase plus operational costs for the project lifetime) would be £23,000, and, if agreed by the Council, Redditch would be required to contribute 10 per cent match funding, which amounted to £2,300.
· Officers assured Members that the air quality project was about working with people in the Borough to drive behavioural changes, such as using modes of public transport other than cars more often, and not about putting additional costs on people, particularly in more deprived areas of the Borough. It was noted that there were currently no plans for an introduction of a clean air zones or similar schemes in Redditch.
following successful outcome of air quality grant bid to Defra, that match funding totalling £2,300 be funded from Corporate Earmarked Reserves over the life of the project.