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Using the updated guidance on air quality assessments for planning

Using the updated guidance on air quality assessments for planning

In May 2015, the Institute of Air Quality Management (IAQM) and Environmental Protection UK (EPUK) launched updated guidance on air quality assessments for planning. The guidance replaced the previous 2010 version, and introduced more stringent significance criteria along with revised assessment thresholds.

The criteria were made more stringent to address concerns raised by local authority air quality officers; historically, air quality impacts, even of fairly large developments were being found to be negligible. The guidance was also intended to encourage early consideration of the potential for air quality impacts, and to encourage the incorporation of measures in the design to reduce emissions associated with the development.

The new guidance means that assessments are now required for smaller sites; within Air Quality Management Areas (AQMAs, where existing air quality has been found to exceed healthy levels), for example, any development which is likely to generate more than 100 vehicles per day requires an air quality impact assessment, where before it may only have been necessary to consider new residential exposure. Outside of AQMAs, assessments are required where more than 500 vehicles are generated per day. Consequently, housing developments of just a few hundred properties are likely to need an assessment.

Unsurprisingly, the assessments which follow this new guidance are often concluding that the development has a more significant impact on local air quality. This has led to the need for enhanced mitigation and a greater commitment to delivering more sustainable developments.

SRL’s air quality team has extensive experience of carrying out air quality assessments to support planning applications, and providing advice on appropriate mitigation. Members of the team were part of the group of consultants responsible for appraising Review & Assessment reports and Air Quality Action Plans on behalf of Defra and the Devolved Administrations, and the Mayor of London. The team have also reviewed the technical adequacy of air quality assessments submitted to local authorities and the Mayor of London in support of planning applications. The team experience means that they have a well-informed view of the planning process and the requirements of local authorities.

To find out how we can help please contact Denise or call her on 01787 247595