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Agenda item

A19 Air Quality Management Area Consultation

The council has identified part of Main Street, Fulford as having air quality that is below acceptable levels. Representatives from the Environmental Protection Unit will be present to discuss this and will be seeking feedback on their proposals to address the situation.

Minutes:

4.1       Andy Gillah, Principal Environmental Protection Officer, explained about the proposed Air Quality Management Area (AQMA) in Main Street, Fulford. Some of the points made were:

4.2       Air quality is important because of the effect that it can have on people’s health. There are government objectives that indicate a minimum standard of acceptable air quality and it is an important part of the council’s transport policy for the city.

4.3       Where the national air quality objectives are unlikely to be met, an Air Quality Management Area must be declared. This will then be followed by an Air Quality Action Plan within 12-18 months.

4.4       Fulford Road sees approximately 20,000 vehicles per day. The resulting Nitrogen Dioxide output has seen the road breach these national objectives.

4.5       There is already an Air Quality Management Area in York around the inner ring road. One of the three proposed options for the Fulford Road AQMA would see it extend to, and join with, this existing AQMA.

4.6       The area of concern in Fulford holds 33 properties; approximately 83 individuals.

4.7       For more information, people can contact the Environmental Protection Unit on: (01904) 551555, email: environmental.protection@york.gov.uk or visit: http://www.jorair.co.uk

 

The following questions and comments were made:

 

Q         The part of the presentation that talked about an AQMA needing to be declared if “national air quality objectives are unlikely to be met” seems a bit vague.

A            Monitoring stations that provide real-time averages are used, and these are very accurate. There are also monitors on lamp posts that are used, but these are not as effective. Therefore, we can only be 95% certain.

Q         The point made about Fulford not being in a smoke control area and so emissions from open fires being potential contributors seems unlikely.

A         It would have a minor influence, if any. But these things must be looked at as part of establishing the AQMA.

Q            Germany Beck developments could increase this problem further.

A         A study was conducted to look at the potential impact of Germany Beck.

Q         What are the implications of a larger AQMA over a smaller one?

A         It is probably better to have a larger one. The whole corridor will need to be looked at regardless of what is chosen.

Q         What was done as part of the Fishergate AQMA?

A         This was a little different as the AQMA was part of the whole inner ring road. It was looked at holistically.

Q         What are the changes that will be made as part of this AQMA?

A         This has not yet been discussed. First the AQMA must be declared and then the action plan can be looked at.

Q         It is very difficult to make a decision on how large an area should fall within the AQMA without first knowing what changes will be implemented.

Q            Perhaps a solution is to have drivers switch off their engines while waiting at traffic lights?

A         This is a valid point. The action plan can look at the timing of lights.

Q         There is a statutory obligation to declare an AQMA and draw up an action plan, but is there also a statutory obligation to implement the changes suggested by the action plan?

A         Once the action plan has been produced, DEFRA must be updated annually as to what points have been implemented so far and any effect seen as a result.

Q         If people opt for the smallest AQMA will this mean the rest of the road is ignored?

A         The rest of the road will be monitored to see if there are any changes and the AQMA boundaries can be amended if necessary.

Q         Are trees a good idea to combat the Nitrogen Dioxide levels?

A            Research into the effectiveness of trees is quite complicated and varying conclusions have been reached. Native trees don’t appear to help the situation, and some evergreens can even make it worse.

Q         Will houses situated within the AQMA have their property prices adversely affected?

A         No evidence has been seen of this nationwide since they were introduced in the late 90s. AQMAs are revealed in land searches but, to put things into context, the whole of London is an AQMA!

Q         Why is Fulford not a smoke control area?

A         When these were introduced in the 50s, Selby opted not to declare a smoke control area. As a result, one side of Heslington Lane is a smoke control area and one side isn’t.

Q         Will there be a public consultation over the action plan?

A         Yes. Will return to the ward committee and feature in the newsletters.

Q         When is the closing date?

A            February 26th.

 

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