Agenda item

Air Quality - Proposed action plan for reduction of air pollution

(Raised by the Borough Council and Kent Association of Local Councils – Tonbridge and Malling)


The Environmental Protection Team Manager presented an update on air quality matters of relevance to Tonbridge and Malling.


In July 2017, the Government had published a UK Air Quality Plan focused on reducing nitrogen dioxide. As a result, 29 local authorities which were forecast to have the greatest exceedance problem over the next 3-4 years were identified to produce action plans.   Whilst the Borough Council was not one of the local authorities identified, the opportunity was being taken to update the Tonbridge and Malling Air Quality Action Plan in line with DEFRA targets.


In updating its Air Quality Action Plan, the Borough Council would explore opportunities to deliver practical change, such as bus retrofitting, provision of cycle routes and provision of electric vehicle charging points, and worked closely with schools and businesses to raise awareness of air quality issues.  There would also be a focus on borough wide mitigation, including an infrastructure to support electric vehicles, and an opportunity to work with developers, planners and Kent County Council highways.


Currently within the Borough there were 7 Air Quality Management Areas (AQMAs) in:


-        Aylesford

-        Borough Green

-        Ditton

-        Larkfield

-        Tonbridge High Street

-        Wateringbury

-        M20


Monitoring of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) was being carried out at 52 sites across the Borough and so far there was no exceedance of NO2 limit levels identified outside of those areas already declared as AQMAs.  If Parish Councils wanted further information on these monitoring points Environmental Protection would be pleased to assist.


Borough Green Parish Council made particular reference to particulates, which were a major concern due to the level of traffic movements and other environmental factors in the area, and asked whether the Borough Council would give consideration to any evidence collected by individual parish/town councils if they purchased their own monitoring devices.  In response, the Environmental Protection Manager indicated that any results generated in this way would be looked at.


Members encouraged more emphasis on particulate monitoring. The Chief Environmental Health Officer advised that particulate monitoring equipment was a significant investment, although options were being explored with neighbouring authorities.     Members were also reminded that although the Borough Council had a duty regarding monitoring of air quality, district authorities had little power to affect and/or implement change.    The biggest opportunity to affect change was liaison with planners, developers and the Highway Authority.  In addition, it was noted that Public Health England could put pressure on traffic planners to take account of air quality.


In response to a question related to the M20 slip road at Junction 5, the Director of Planning, Housing and Environmental Health advised that the Borough Council were fully supportive of these proposals.  It was also hoped that the introduction of a ‘smart’ motorway along a stretch of the M20 would have a positive effect on the AQMAs in that vicinity.


A number of significant concerns were raised and noted.  These included monitoring air quality at schools; risks to children as a result of NO2 and particulates; impacts on local schools and communities, especially where concerns had already been expressed; the explanation around ‘receptors’ (housing) and the requirement for these to trigger an AQMA; the clarification that the M20 AQMA related to the area from the bridge at New Hythe Lane to Hall Road in Aylesford and the need for environmental permits and Local Planning Authority consent before crushing of aggregates. 


The Chairman suggested that further questions related to particular sites should be raised out of meeting for Officers to advise further.

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