Agenda item

Air Quality Management Plan and general update

Objective: Update on the AQMA’s progress


Gareth Jones (Senior Environmental Health Officer), Louis Krog (Head of Public Protection and DEPLO)


Louis Krog (Head of Public Protection and DEPLO) introduced the paper, explaining that Cheltenham used to have a borough-wide Air Quality Management Area (AQMA) until it became clear through extensive monitoring that most of the borough was complying with statutory limits, and it was only specific areas that exceeded them. The AQMA was reduced to incorporate this smaller area, which meant the previous Air Quality Action Plan (AQAP) became obsolete and a new one was needed. A draft had been published in December 2020 with the approval of DEFRA, and although there was a statutory requirement to finalise the action plan within twelve months of its creation, this was changed to two years due to Covid, and the deadline was now September 2022. He was working closely with the Cabinet Member, Cllr. Horwood, and felt it was close to being ready to go out for consultation. He added that a number of relevant topic areas did not sit with CBC, as the county council and Highways in particular were responsible for traffic and transport. He also noted that as vehicles became cleaner over time, there was a sense that the government was shifting its focus towards particulate emissions. There were control zones in Cheltenham where the burning of things like firewood was restricted, but these needed updating.

In response to Members’ questions, the following responses were given:


-       35 areas across the borough were currently being monitored, and this would be expanded going forward subject to further discussions;

-       they were currently using mesh tubes to measure emissions and particulates, but were looking to procure more specialised equipment too;

-       the data they were currently gathering was reasonably comprehensive, and gave a clear overview of air pollution in the monitored areas;

-       the new Transport Hub being built at Arle Court would be a reasonable place for additional monitoring, and concerns from residents about it being a pollution hotspot due to increased vehicular activity were being taken into account;

-       the draft action plan addressed other relevant policy areas and projects like the airport and Golden Valley, in order to ensure they were sustainable and green;

-       it was clearly key to collaborate with projects like West Cheltenham and get ahead of the game rather than having to retrospectively implement enforcement measures;

-       officers were fairly confident that the county council were on the same wavelength with regard to reducing emissions, both from a public health and a highways point of view, though GCC would also have to get the other district councils on board. There was already a strong existing partnership between CBC and GCC;

-       public transport was a key part of reducing emissions, and officers were aware of complaints from residents about the effects of outsourcing and cuts on this;

-       the action plan aimed to lower the limit from the statutory 40 µg/m3  to 30 µg/m3, which was likely to expand the AQMA;

-       the team was working closely with climate change officers to ensure their goals were aligned. The Executive Director Place and Communities added that both teams, as well as other departments such as parks and gardens, were all under the same umbrella and he would ensure they pulled in the same direction.

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