The drive to see clean air and minimal pollution in Cheshire East takes a further step this week with the adoption of an air quality strategy to deliver a wide range of interventions across the borough.
The strategy will encompass the many objectives already drawn up to help meet government policy around emissions targets and air quality.
It will be applied across all planning and transport decision making and will be a joint approach, in conjunction with external organisations, stakeholders, partners and community groups.
More electric vehicles and charging points, designated routes for heavy goods vehicles and an anti-idling campaign, to reduce engine emissions, are just some of the objectives the council will seek to deliver in the future.
The council will actively promote the use of electric vehicles, including within its own transport fleets, and encourage greater use of electric cars and electric commercial vehicles across the borough, while ensuring that housing developments have a required number of electric charging points.
An air quality strategy will become an integral part of the council’s overall planning policy and local transport plan, meaning that air quality will be a principle consideration in decision making at local and strategic level.
The strategy – adopted by the council’s cabinet today (Tuesday) – will ensure that air quality is always properly considered when relevant planning decisions are taken. It states that all developers should contribute to an air quality action plan through a formula based on the size of the housing scheme and the number of car parking spaces.
It also states that road transport is the primary source of air pollution in the borough and that this must be reduced. The council will work with freight operators to establish appropriate truck routes and delivery routines to minimise congestion and pollution.
Drivers will also be encouraged to minimise engine idling – where engines continue to tick over in traffic queues or where stationary in driveways, at the road side or in car parks.
By implementing an air quality strategy, the council is meeting the recommendations of government that all local authorities, that have declared air quality management areas, (AQMAs) should draw up an air quality strategy. The council has 18 AQMAs in place to monitor air quality.
The strategy covers:
· The monitoring of air pollutants;
· Assessing new developments for impact on air quality;
· Improving public awareness;
· Assessment of road schemes; and
· Assessment of industrial processes.
Councillor Ainsley Arnold, Cheshire East Council cabinet member for housing, planning and regeneration, said: “This is an extremely important strategy document that will inform and influence all future planning decisions and infrastructure development.
“This means that the council will consider any potential impact on air quality when reaching relevant decisions across the borough. Much, if not all contributors to poor air quality in Cheshire East, is a result of traffic emissions and it is right that our residents are aware that we are closely monitoring parts of the borough impacted by poor air quality and that we are taking steps to address this.”
Councillor Liz Wardlaw, Cheshire East Council cabinet member for health, said: “The borough, as a whole, does not have a problem with poor air quality when compared to the inner-cities but we do have pockets of heavily-trafficked roads, where there are unacceptable levels of pollutants, which can lead to health issues.
“Tackling poor air quality through AQMAs and an air quality strategy will play a major role in helping our residents to live long and healthy lives, stay active for longer and reduce hospital admissions.”