Draft Sustainability Appraisal Scoping Report

Ended on the 15th January 2010
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7 Air quality

7.1 Introduction

7.1.1 The Government has a National Air Quality Strategy65 to improve and protect ambient air quality in the UK in the medium-term. Improvements in air quality help meet health and biodiversity objectives, as well as helping to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

7.2 What’s the policy context?

7.2.1 At the European level, the Air Quality Framework directive (96/62/EC)66 sets a strategic framework for tackling air quality consistently by setting European-wide limit values for twelve air pollutants in a series of daughter directives. The Government’s Air Quality Strategy (2000)67 , required under the Environment Act (1995), sets out plans to improve and protect air quality in the UK. It considers ambient air quality only, leaving other aspects such as occupational, in vehicle and indoor air quality management to be addressed separately. Local authorities such as Harlow have statutory duties for local air quality management (LAQM) under the Environment Act 1995. They are required to carry out regular reviews and assessment against eight of the national objectives. Where it is found that objectives are unlikely to be met, local authorities must designate air quality management areas (AQMAs) to tackle the problem.

7.2.2 Harlow district is part of the Essex Air Quality Consortium68 , formed in 1995 to address air quality issues in Essex. The first round of Air Quality Review and Assessment was completed in 2002 and the second round is due to be completed shortly69 . Updating and Screening Assessments were completed in 2003 and 2006. Harlow Council has been monitoring nitrogen dioxide and particles since late 2001 and has set up a monitoring station within 50 metres of the A414, but has not declared any air quality management areas.

7.2.3 As part of the second Local Transport Plan (LTP2), Essex County Council will be introducing congestion management schemes and corridor improvements along the A414, in order to help reduce congestion and address air quality issues in Harlow70.

7.2.4 Air quality issues should also be tackled by local authorities through spatial planning, local transport and controlling industrial pollution sources. The other two main organisations responsible for managing air quality are the Environment Agency, which is responsible for the regulation of emissions from industrial facilities and processes and the Highways Agency, responsible for managing motorways and trunk roads.

7.3 What are the key objectives and other decision-making criteria that we need to consider?

7.3.1 Many of the objectives set out in the Integrated Regional Sustainability Framework for the East of England – see Table 2 – are relevant in considering future impacts on Harlow’s town centre. Particularly relevant objectives include:

  • Promote sustainable growth within environmental limits

  • Reduce greenhouse gas emissions

  • Conserve, restore and enhance the region’s natural and built environment

  • Move goods and people sustainably.

7.3.2 Harlow also has a number of key priorities for 2009/10 to 2012/13 as outlined in the Council’s Sustainability Strategy and approved in January 2009 by the Environment and Community Committee71: Relevant priorities include:

  • Promoting a clean, green, healthy and safe environment.

7.4 What’s the situation now? (including any existing problems)

7.4.1 Harlow District includes about 30 industrial processes, most of which are located in the two main industrial areas in the town: Templefields to the north and the Pinnacles to the northwest. However, during the first round of air quality review, none of these industrial sources was found to be an issue nor as being likely to cause exceedances of air quality objectives.

7.4.2 Traffic emissions are identified as the most significant source of air pollution in Harlow. The main roads in the District are the M11 and the A414 and emissions of NO2 and PM10 from vehicles on these roads represent the main air quality issues for the District.

7.4.3 Modelling identified the possibility of the nitrogen dioxide air quality objective being exceeded within 50 metres of the A414. The Council has set up a monitoring station at this location, however subsequent monitoring and modelling has shown that the standard has not been exceeded and no air quality management areas have been formally identified in Harlow District72.

7.4.4 Air quality monitoring sites also exist at Old Bank House, East Park, Gardeners, Purford Green and Potters Street; although there is currently insufficient data to comment on significant trends73.

Are there any evidence gaps?

7.4.5 Currently it is not possible to comment on significant trends in data at the monitoring sites for NO2 and PM10 because an insufficient amount of data has been collected. However, the most recently available Progress Report (2005) states that the District Council does not need to carry out any detailed assessment as a result of any findings so far74.

7.5 What will be the situation without the plan? (the ‘business-as-usual’ option)

7.5.1 It is likely that significant new developments in the Harlow area will result in traffic growth within Harlow and will therefore have the potential to impact on air quality75. Construction could potentially also take place on the M11 corridor and the A414, resulting in an increase in traffic movement. As a result of development and increased traffic congestion, air quality objectives may be exceeded and an AQMA declared, potentially near currently monitored sites such as the A414.

7.5.2 Intervention through the Core Strategy may mitigate anticipated reduction in air quality, by complementing plans in the Essex LTP2, and by tackling issues such as transport and air quality in addition to the location of development.

(1) 7.6 What issues should be a particular focus for the appraisal?

7.6.1 In light of the information above, key issues to take into account in the appraisal in relation to air quality include:

  • The need to ensure that inappropriate levels of development or activities which contribute towards lower levels of air quality are not located within an inappropriate proximity to locations approaching objective limits.


65 Defra (2007) The Air Quality Strategy for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland [online] available at:
www.defra.gov.uk/environment/airquality/strategy/pdf/air-qualitystrategy-vol1.pdf (accessed 17 June 2009).

66 EU (1996) Council Directive 96/62/EC of 27 September 1996 on ambient air quality assessment and management [online] available at:
eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=CELEX:31996L0062:EN:HTML (accessed 17 June 2009).

67 Defra (2007) The Air Quality Strategy for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland [online] available at:
www.defra.gov.uk/environment/airquality/strategy/pdf/air-qualitystrategy-vol1.pdf (accessed 16 June 2009).

68 See the Essex Air Quality Consortium: www.essexair.org/ (accessed 13 August 2009).

69 At time of writing 13 August 2009.

70 Essex County Council (2009) Essex Local Transport Plan 2006-2011 [online] available at:
www.essexcc.gov.uk/vip8/ecc/ECCWebsite/dis/guc.jsp?channelOid=16819&guideContentOid=44746&guideOid=39939 (accessed 13 August 2009).

71 Harlow Council (2009) Harlow Sustainability Strategy [online] available at:
www.harlow.gov.uk/about_the_council/council_services/corporate_services/policy_and_performance/sustainability_strategy.aspx (accessed 13 August 2009).

72 Essex County Council (2009) Air Quality In Harlow [online] available at:
www.essexair.org/ (accessed 13 August 2009).

73 Harlow District Council (2005) LAQM Progress Report 2005 [online] available at:
www.essexair.org/ (accessed 13 August 2009).

74 Harlow District Council (2005) LAQM Progress Report 2005 [online] available at:
www.essexair.org/ (accessed 13 August 2009).

75 Harlow District Council (2005) LAQM Progress Report 2005 [online] available at:
www.essexair.org/ (accessed 13 August 2009).

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