What is an Air Quality Action Plan (AQAP)?
This is a policy document that contains a series of proposed actions and measures to be taken by Ipswich Borough Council and its partners to try to improve nitrogen dioxide levels within Air Quality Management Areas (AQMAs) and across the town. There is no simple, single option to address air quality and so a number of complementary measures have been proposed.
Why does Ipswich need an AQAP?
The Council has a statutory duty to assess air quality across the borough and to compare pollution levels against the Government’s national objective limits. If these objective limits are exceeded then the Council must designate that area an Air Quality Management Area (AQMA) and produce an AQAP to try to improve the air quality. This draft AQAP is proposed as an update to the last AQAP produced by the Council, which was published in 2008.
Does Ipswich have a major problem with pollution?
Generally, the air quality within the borough is good. However, monitoring has identified that there are areas close to busy roads within the town that exceed the Government’s national objective level for Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2). Ipswich currently has 5 AQMAs which follow the major routes in and around the town centre.
Where does Nitrogen Dioxide come from?
Nitrogen dioxide (NO2) is a gas produced by the reaction of nitrogen and oxygen in the atmosphere. All combustion processes, such as vehicle engines, power stations and industries emit nitric oxide (NO) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2), collectively called oxides of nitrogen (i.e. NOx). Usually the dominant NOx emission is in the form of NO, which through chemical reactions in the atmosphere is converted to NO2. The main source of NOx emissions is from road transport both nationally and locally.
Have other Local Authorities declared AQMAs?
Yes, over 300 Local Authorities have active AQMAs within their areas. Some Local Authorities have more than one AQMA within their districts, whilst others have declared their whole area.
Does an AQMA stay in place forever?
No, the Council will continue to monitor the levels of NO2, and should the annual average level fall below the national objective, an AQMA can be removed.
What are the main aims of the AQAP?
The main aim is to improve air quality within an Air Quality Management Area (AQMA) and therefore improve the health of residents. Whilst the actions are targeted towards nitrogen dioxide, there is expected to be a wider health benefit from reductions in other pollutants, such as particulates, across the whole town.
What can be included in an AQAP?
Any actions which would result in an improvement in the air quality in an AQMA. The actions do not necessarily have to occur in the AQMA and can either be policy-based or practical in nature. Actions could be carried out by a Local Authority, business, voluntary group or resident(s).
How have the measures in the AQAP been developed?
An Air Quality Steering Group, chaired by the Head of Housing and Community Services has been set up to oversee and develop the plan. The steering group consists of senior managers and officers representing Environmental Health, Planning, Transport and Public Health teams from Ipswich Borough Council and Suffolk County Council. Councillors have also had an input into the plan.
Why don’t you monitor near me?
Over the years, we have monitored in areas of the borough where we felt there was potential for levels of NO2 to be above the national objective. There have been a number of other sites where equipment has been in place, but was subsequently removed as levels were not found to be high enough to warrant further monitoring. The Annual Status Report we submit to Defra each year ensures we consider where pollution levels or relevant exposure may change.
Will the value of my property be affected if it’s in an AQMA?
Designation of AQMAs is a legislative requirement and not an optional process. Other councils have declared AQMAs and to the best of our knowledge there have been no reported effects on property values. The AQMA is a positive step, as it means action is being taken to improve air quality.
Do you consider air quality in the planning process?
Yes – and particularly for larger sites. Air quality is a material planning consideration and larger development applications must be accompanied by an air quality assessment. Our officers consider these assessments and make recommendations accordingly.
What can communities do to help?
For any action to reduce emissions to be effective, it needs not only the support of the local population, but also their action. Individual behaviour will have to change, starting in small ways. For example turning off engines when idling, or using alternative travel modes where these are practical for the journey in question should become the social norm. Leadership and assistance from businesses and community groups will be needed to make this happen.
Ipswich Borough Council and Suffolk County Council can support people to make these changes, and provide them with the infrastructure to do so, but ultimately the community needs to shift its attitudes and expectations. Positive action by informed and engaged community groups will receive the full support of the Council to achieve this. There are now many examples of such action available online, as well as packs for community organisers to help them facilitate particular campaigns.
Where do I go for more information?
We are holding some drop in sessions where you can come along and speak to us directly. The drop in sessions will be between 09.30 to 15.00hrs at the Customer Services Centre, Town Hall, Princes Street, Ipswich, IP1 1BZ on Thursday 29th November 2018 and Wednesday 5th December 2018.
What will happen at the end of the consultation?
At the end of the consultation, all comments received will be reviewed and if necessary the plan will be amended. A summary of the responses and the details on the next stage will be presented on the Council website.
What are the timescales for the adoption of the AQAP?
The consultation is proposed to run until 23rd December 2018. Depending upon comments received, the finalised AQAP is expected to be adopted in February 2019.