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November  2017 Headlines

Court threat to authorities

Public authorities failing to produce action plans that deliver results may receive legal threats from Clientearth, Andrea Lee told last month’s IAQM Routes to Clean Air conference.

2030 PM2.5 WHO target for London

The London Mayor has pledged to meet the PM2.5 10µg/m3 WHO guideline by 2030 in a bid to improve London health. It is the headline measure within the Mayors draft Environment Strategy which is currently out to consultation

T-charge now in

The London T-charge (toxic charge) is now in force. Older more polluting cars accessing the central London congestion charge zone must pay a £10 a day charge (on top of the £11.50 congestion charge) or face fines.

News from the IAQM Routes to Clean Air conference

King: ‘too little too late’

Former government chief scientific advisor Sir David King gave the keynote speech to the IAQM Routes to Clean Air conference held in Birmingham last month: “Action on air quality is too little too late.

Leeds reveals real-world CAZ stresses

Leeds City Council’s Polly Cook revealed what it was like for a local authority under the cosh of the Defra/DfT Joint Air Quality Unit and day to day constraints on clean air zone-planning such as local election purdah.

Is planning being taken seriously?

Rose Grogan of law firm 39 Essex Chambers analysed whether air quality was being taken seriously by the planning system.

Kelly: no NO2 death numbers yet

Head of Comeap Frank Kelly once again had to explain why the expert group had failed to finalise numbers on NO2.

Real world performance hopes and fears

David Carslaw of Ricardo/York University reviewed NO2 and NOX trends in London: “There is an apparent trend in London that NO2 is rising but this is because we are adding new sites in polluted locations. People need to take extreme care when drawing trends on this monitored data because of this – we do need to look after our long term sites.

Aviation revision

Release of the UK NO2 plan has contributed to the need to re-consult on the aviation national planning statement. The NPS is the parliamentary device that will precede a planning application for expansion of Heathrow (AQB March 2017).

Tubes ranked

Diffusion tube laboratory rankings have been published. Fewer local authorities continue to offer testing services with some struggling to meet consistent accuracy standards.

Europe snapshot

The European Environment Agency has released its yearly update on air quality across the EU.

Legal bill

Freedom of information requests have revealed Government costs of defending action against Clientearth. “Clientearth #1” in 2015 cost Defra over £80,000 in fees and costs, the more recent court case cost Defra over £280,000.

Inquiry relaunched

The Commons Environment Food and Rural Affairs, Environmental Audit, Health, and Transport Committees have re-launched their joint “superinquiry” into improving air quality.

News from the Welsh Air Quality Forum conference

Speed cut yields big benefits

Public Health Wales believes speed reductions can provide huge benefits for pollution.

Excess NO2 at Welsh ‘demolition’ hotspot

Remote sensing has been carried out at the Hafod-yr-ynys hotspot in Wales. The site has made the news as one of the policy options is to demolish the houses to reduce exposure (AQB Sept p4).

Formal compliance statistics are released

The UK has published EU Directive compliance assessment information for 2016. There have been few changes.

World medics unite

An international grouping of medics has been pulled together by The Lancet commenting on air pollution and climate change. It uses WHO statistics to highlight widespread air pollution problems in UK and the wider world.

Feasibility studies commissioned

Local authorities across England are signing off contracts for feasibility studies to comply with the UK air quality plan.

Metal box AQ garden

Bankside business improvement district in Southwark is trialling portable gardens mounted in skips in a bid to improve air quality.

Research wish list

NICE is working with the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) to encourage targeted research into air pollution.

Glasgow first

Glasgow has confirmed that it is the first of four Scottish cities to bring forward a low emission zone (AQB October p1).

Nuisance clarification

A local authority may bring summary proceedings (prosecute) a person who contravenes, or fails to comply with an abatement notice without reasonable excuse.

Councils poll

Research commissioned by London Councils shows 47% of 1,000 respondents felt that their health had been impacted by London’s air.

Fracking banned in Scotland

Jack Pease questions the quality of policy making behind Scotland’s decision to ban fracking.

Zero emission zone for Oxford?

Oxford claims a ‘world’s first low emission zone’. Is it as ambitious as it claimed?

Regulation for zone enforcement remains unclear

It seems remarkable that despite years of questioning whether there are sufficient powers to implement low emission zones, councils remain uncertain on what powers they can use.

Zero emission zone conflicts with clean air zone

Ricardo’s report explains the differences between the proposed zero emission zone and government-favoured clean air zones (for those areas affected by the UK plan which does not include Oxford). Oxford does not appear keen to adopt a clean air zone.