Part IV of the Environment Act 1995 required the Government to produce a national air quality strategy for air quality. The same Act places a duty on all local authorities to carry out periodic reviews of air quality to determine if they will meet the objectives set out in the National Air Quality Strategy (NAQS). The first National Air Quality Strategy was published in March 1997 with the Air Quality Regulations providing the legal footing for the air quality objectives set out in the NAQS. The NAQS uses health-based standards to control the levels of seven designated air pollutants. The objectives for these pollutants can be viewed here: http://www.airquality.co.uk/archive/laqm/information.php?info=objectives.
The NAQS has evolved over time and has seen the NAQS revised and re-published as "The Air Quality Strategy for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland -Working Together for Clean Air". The revision, integrated European air quality standards into UK policy and, eventually legislation for both England and the devolved administrations. The Air Quality Regulations 1997 have been superseded by the Air Quality Regulations 2000 which themselves have been amended with the Air Quality (Amendment) Regulations 2002 which came into effect on the 31st December 2002.
The Local Authority review and assessment progress is multi-staged. Teignbridge completed the first round of review and assessment between 1999 and 2002 and concluded that it was not necessary to designate any Air Quality Management Areas (AQMAs) at that time. There is only a legal requirement to designate an AQMA when the air quality objectives are not likely to be met. The local authority must then draw up an Air Quality Action Plan setting out measures that it intends to take in pursuit of the air quality objectives within the area covered by the AQMA.
The second round of review and assessment commenced in 2003 and was carried out in accordance with Defra technical guidance (LAQM.TG (03). The commencement of the second round of review and assessment coincided with the introduction of a new, two step process.
Step one is the Updating and Screening Assessment (USA) - intended to identify those matters that have changed since the last review and assessment, which might lead to a risk of an air quality objective being exceeded. If there is a risk of an air quality objective being exceeded the local authority should proceed to a Detailed Assessment.
Step two is the Detailed Assessment (DA) - intended to provide an accurate assessment of the likelihood of an air quality objective being exceeded at locations with relevant exposure. It is necessary to use quality-assured monitoring and validated modelling methods. The Detailed Assessment should be sufficiently detailed to allow the designation or amendment of any AQMAs.
Where a local authority does not have to complete a Detailed Assessment, then it must instead complete an Air Quality Progress Report. The concept is that this will ensure continuity in the Local Air Quality Management process. As a result every local authority in England is required to complete a USA every three years; either a DA or a Progress Report in the second year and a progress Report in the third year. The cycle then starts all over again.
Teignbridge commenced the second round of review and assessment in 2003 and this concluded that a number of locations throughout the district would not meet the health based objectives for nitrogen dioxide. Consequently four AQMAs were declared in November 2005 at the following locations:
· Newton Abbot Town Centre
· Bitton Park Road, Teignmouth
· A380 Kingskerswell corridor
· Iddesleigh Terrace, Dawlish
The boundaries of the four AQMAs can be viewed at www.teignbridge.gov.uk/index.cfm?articleid=4003.
Consultants at the University of England in Bristol are currently carrying out detailed dispersion modelling within each of the four AQMAs.The results will be included in the Further Assessment report due for completion in November 2006. Teignbridge must now draw up a package of measures in conjunction with Devon County Council and other key stakeholders that are considered to be the most appropriate and cost effective way of reducing the pollution. This is termed an Air Quality Action Plan. The first step in producing the Action Plan has commenced, namely "source apportionment" of the nitrogen dioxide. This is a detailed investigation of where the emissions are coming from. This will enable the Air Quality Steering Group to effectively target those sources which are causing the greatest contribution to the pollution, for example, HGVs, junctions, traffic lights.
The air quality reports can be viewed here www.teignbridge.gov.uk/index.cfm?articleid=1889