Wednesday, September 11, 2013

What is the Future of Local Air Quality Management in the UK?

Review of Effectiveness of LA AQAP and Future Policy Options for LAQM(64 page pdf, Stephen Moorcroft (AQC) and Chris Dore (Aether), Air Quality Consultants Ltd, June 2013)  

Also discussed here: Review of Local Air Quality Management in England(Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs, June 2013)

Today we review a two month consultation process (to end in September 2013)aimed at the future of local air quality management in the 250 cities in the UK which have agreed to Local Air Quality Management(LAQM) agreements since the enabling Act was passed in 1995 in response to concern about health impacts. A review was made of the effectiveness of the present system by interviews with 20 selected municipal authorities. The main outcome of the review was a lack of significant decreases in nitrogen dioxide, the main emission from vehicles, and without this, there is a question – especially from “non technical” people (one thinks of politicians), as opposed to those experienced in transportation - as to the effectiveness of the program to reduce health impacts. The conclusions seem to point to the need for a hybrid reduced emission-driven system that combines local hot spot management with authority-wide regulation and better communication of results to the public.

English: An Air Quality Monitoring Station abo... 
English: An Air Quality Monitoring Station above the M42. This Air Quality Monitoring Station is in Shadowbrook Lane, on a bridge above the M42. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Key Quotes:
“LAQM has been in place since 1997. While it has greatly improved our knowledge of the sources and extent of air pollution it has proved difficult to quantify the impacts and effectiveness of measures introduced to improve air quality”

“Authorities have been successful in implementing a wide range of measures, particularly within those areas for which the authority has direct control… there has been little evidence of nitrogen dioxide concentrations declining.”
“it is easier to sell the benefits in terms of “emissions reduction” to transport and development control planners, and to local politicians; where nitrogen dioxide concentrations are not declining, it is difficult to sell the benefits to non-specialist audiences…Air quality is often seen as a low priority issue by local politicians, businesses and members of the public.”

“The majority of the action plan measures fall into the broad categories of demand management (i.e. reducing road traffic) or the introduction of cleaner (low emission) vehicles.”
“more important that local authorities focus their actions on what is needed to achieve these obligations and to reduce the public health impacts of poor air quality rather than to continue their current focus on local assessment and reporting.”

“There are two potential approaches that could be used for an emissions-driven approach. These would be an “authority-wide” approach and a “hotspot-targeted” approach… Potentially much easier for a local authority to implement, and no need to undertake complex dispersion modelling studies. Scope of reduction is targeted upon local hotspots”
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