Air Quality Delivery Plan

 

Air quality in Tyne and Wear is rapidly becoming an important issue, as levels of car ownership are rising faster in this region than anywhere else in the country. This has in turn resulted in congested roads and poorer levels of air quality for the region’s inhabitants.

The significance of air quality has therefore never been more important than today, and this is recognised by it being identified as one of the shared priorities for transport, together with accessibility, congestion and road safety. Reports such as the Tyne and Wear Air Quality Strategy have recognised that poor air quality does not only result in health problems and unpleasant living conditions for those residents affected by it; it is also a threat to the region’s development and regeneration.

Environmental improvements are key to enhancing the quality of life for everyone in Tyne and Wear, visitors and commuters alike. To this end, the plan seeks to improve air quality across Tyne and Wear as a whole, but with a particular focus on locations with identified problems which have been declared as Air Quality Management Areas (AQMA) and actions to be implemented here.

The priority of air quality, defined as levels of pollutants in the air, has historically been pushed down the transport agenda in order to make room for more prominent competing priorities, such as economic regeneration. One of the reasons behind this might be that air quality is the hardest of the shared transport priorities to measure, and it is least visible to the public.

The Tyne and Wear Air Quality Delivery Plan has recently been completed by the Tyne and Wear Local Transport Plan Core Team as a response to these issues and problems. The overall aim is to outline air quality conditions across Tyne and Wear, to show where potential problems lie and finally to outline what can be done to improve air quality and thus the quality of life for the people of Tyne and Wear. In doing so, the plan sets out:

  • The background to air quality issues and air quality objectives in Tyne and Wear
  • Governance and monitoring arrangements to drive improvement forward
  • Current air quality levels and measures in the region
  • New air quality indictors and targets for Tyne and Wear
  • Challenges to our proposed objectives and solutions, and how these can be overcome
  • Examples of national and regional best practice which can be used to improve Tyne and Wear air quality levels
  • Proposed actions to improve area specific and overall Tyne and Wear air quality levels which affects us all

The key issues raised by the plan are an emphasis on action and a clear commitment that we must, wherever possible, prevent further areas in Tyne and Wear from becoming AQMAs – areas where air quality had been recognised as being especially poor. Current air quality action plans produced subsequent to an area being declared an AQMA do not propose tangible actions, ownership of problems, budgets or timelines. This indicates that the problem does not lie in insufficient monitoring, but in what this information is subsequently utilised for; signifying a need for the proposed actions and for clear ownership of these, as presented in the plan.

The plan therefore presents realistic, efficient and reliable air quality solutions which need to incorporate the promotion of alternative modes, management of the existing highway network, planning, emissions management, information and education. This will be based around a combination of policy implementation and interventions. However, the task of implementing such actions to improve air quality in a specific area can be challenging due to a lack of standardised processes and the varying conditions and sources in each area. Two ‘sets’ of actions are hence needed; one aimed at area-specific interventions, and one dealing with measures which will improve Tyne and Wear air quality levels as a whole.

In order to achieve these ambitions, the plan recognises the need for a clear commitment from stakeholders, along with a better working relationship between planning departments and environmental health officers and more pooling of knowledge.  It is also important to note that the Air Quality Delivery Plan is a living document and will hence be regularly updated to reflect changes in AQMA boundaries and to take into account results of on-going detailed assessments.

Comments about this plan are welcome and can be sent to info@tyneandwearltp.co.uk

Chapter 1 – Introduction 

Chapter 2 – Background and Objectives 

Chapter 3 – Governance and Monitoring 

Chapter 4 – Current Situation part1, part2

Chapter 5 – Indicators and Targets 

Chapter 6 – Risk Assessment 

Chapter 7 – Best Practice 

Chapter 8 – Actions 

Appendices A, B