(Service Director (Commercial & Regulatory Services)) To consider the attached report.
The Service Director (Commercial& Regulatory) explained that the report detailed the role and responsibilities of the Council to do with enforcement of legislation in respect of air quality and pollution from vehicle emissions, which was requested by the Overview and Scrutiny Committee on 16 July 2019. Local Air Quality Management (LAQM) placed a statutory duty on local authorities to assess their districts and identify areas with high air pollution. Measuring certain chemicals (nitrogen oxides) would give an indication of where the hotspots were, and Bell Common, Epping, was the only area in the District where levels exceeded the current standards. The Council was required by DEFRA to declare an air quality management area (AQMA) and put in place an air quality action plan that was submitted to DEFRA to improve the air quality. The other area was in relation to the examination of the Local Plan and the impact of air quality on Epping Forest.
There was also the enforcement of idling vehicles by authorised Council officers who could issue fixed penalty notices (FPN). Officers would inform the driver to turn the engine off before issuing a FPN and as all drivers had complied with this instruction no FPNs had been issued so far. Epping Station had a problem with idling vehicles but as this was situated on private land Council officers could not issue FPNs. The Council did try to educate the public and supported National Clean Air Day, which was publicised in the District and large topical banners were displayed especially around schools, Epping Station and Bell Common. The Portfolio Holder had attended Epping Primary School with the Public Health Team as part of that education programme.
Councillor D Wixley referred to areas where additional monitoring had been set up, but asked if this could include the heavy build-up of traffic in Rectory Lane/Chigwell Lane/ Oakwood Hill in Loughton, which had increased since Epping Forest Retail Park had opened. There was also high pollution at the junction of Roding Road from Alderton Hill down to the traffic lights with Oakwood Hill/Valley Hill in Loughton, Loughton High Road and also around Loughton Station.
The Service Director (Commercial & Regulatory) asked if Councillor Wixley could email these locations to him to investigate further. However, he explained that a build-up of traffic at certain places might not necessarily mean the Council would want to declare an AQMA because it also had to take into consideration people (human receptors) in close proximity to the sites.
Councillor D Wixley referred to the National Clean Air Day and asked if a day was long enough and whether it should last week.
The Service Director (Commercial & Regulatory) said Clean Air Day was a nationally recognised day but there was no reason for the Council not to have additional initiatives throughout the year.
Councillor S Heap urged the Council to push beyond DEFRA recommendations and take other receptors into consideration. Also on monitoring pollution, were these done at different times of the day to reflect different levels of traffic?
The Service Director (Commercial & Regulatory) replied the Council was required to monitor people receptors but putting resources into other receptors would probably not be very productive. In respect of monitoring, this was done using passive diffusion tubes which operated 24 hours a day over a period of weeks.
(1) That the position with regard to the enforcement of current legislation relating to air quality be noted;
(2) That Councillor D Wixley forward to the Service Director (Commercial & Regulatory) the Loughton locations where there was heavy traffic to investigate further in relation to possible monitoring; and
(3) That additional initiatives to promote better air quality/less pollution could be undertaken by the Council’s Public Health Team.