Bridgend Air Quality Management Area
An Air Quality Management Area (AQMA) is a defined area where the level of certain pollutants exceed, or are likely to exceed national air quality objectives, as set by Welsh Government to protect human health. In such circumstances, the Council has a statutory duty to declare an AQMA. Once an AQMA has been declared, the Council has to carry out further work to monitor the air quality within that area, in this case for nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and identify what action can be taken to improve it. The creation of an AQMA is therefore a positive step towards improving local air quality.
The air quality objectives applicable to Local Air Quality Management (LAQM) in Wales are set out in the Air Quality (Wales) Regulations 2000, No. 1940 (Wales 138) and Air Quality (Amendment) (Wales) Regulations 2002, No 3182 (Wales 298).
There are two air quality objectives for nitrogen dioxide; to protect residents and others who will be breathing the air for a long time, and to protect visitors who are just passing through the area.
• The long-term objective (for residents) is 40ug/m3 averaged over a year
• The short-term objective (for visitors) is 200ug/m3 averaged over one hour
Nitrogen Oxides (NOx) emissions are made up from both primary nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and nitric oxide (NO), and are largely formed by the burning of fossil fuels, such as diesel and petrol. NO produced undergoes a chemical reaction with atmosphere laden with oxidants such as ozone (O3) to produce secondary NO2.
Although non-transport sources of NOx are considerable contributors, according to the National Atmospheric Emissions Inventory road transport accounts for one third of the UK’s NOx emissions. Diesel vehicles are outlined as the main source of road transport influencing these levels.
Increased levels of NO2 in towns and cities are found close to roads, normally within a few metres of the kerb. NO2 usually disperses quite rapidly but if there are buildings very close to the road it can build up to higher levels.
Nitrogen dioxide can have both long and short term health effects on residents. Short term effects can include irritation of the eyes and throat and there can be an increase of symptoms of respiratory conditions including asthma, and bronchitis.
The long-term health effects will increase the susceptibility to respiratory conditions among healthy individuals, and lead to gradual deterioration in the health of people already suffering from respiratory problems, particularly in elderly people.
No, the Council will continue to monitor the levels of nitrogen dioxide and if the annual average level consistently falls below the national objective (minimum three year) and is proven to remain below the objective for future years, the local authority will apply to Welsh Government for the AQMA to be removed.
No, there is no legal requirement for the AQMA to be placed on the land registry against properties located within it. However, the information has to be made available to the public, and will be placed on a national website by DEFRA, as well as locally on the SRS and Bridgend County Borough Council websites.
The designation of an AQMA is a legislative requirement. AQMAs are not subject to routine land searches and many other councils have declared AQMAs. To the best of our knowledge there have been no reported effects on property values.
Yes, many local authorities have identified areas where the air quality needs to be improved for a range of air pollutants in addition to nitrogen dioxide. You can find a full List of Local Authorities with AQMAs on the Government’s website.
Development of the Park Street Air Quality Action Plan.
The Park Street AQMA order came into effect on 1st January 2019. Once an AQMA has been declared, a Draft Air Quality Action Plan (AQAP) must be produced within 18 months and finalised within 2 years.
Although SRS is focused on achieving the delivery of the FINAL AQAP and conscious of the document’s importance, working through the current pandemic has adversely impacted work capacity and project delivery timeframes for producing this document. Due to implications resultant of the current pandemic, Welsh Government is fully supportive of BCBC/ SRS’ commitment to deliver a robust FINAL AQAP and therefore have agreed an extension deadline date for 30th September 2021.
Public engagement sessions:- A total of four public engagement sessions across two days (13th & 18th December 2019) were provided by SRS. Morning (08:30- 11:00) and afternoon (16:30- 19:00) timeslots were scheduled. SRS hired an accessible room at the nearby Bridgend Life Centre.
Initial analysis and outcomes:- Queuing and inconsistent traffic flows appear to be the principal cause of the portrayed poor air quality levels (elevated and exceeding set levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2)). A large percentage (approximately 40%) of NO2 levels experienced at sensitive receptor locations along Park Street is attributed by cars, (predominantly diesel models), as well as Light Goods Vehicles (LGVs) which accounts for almost 20%.
Collaborating the ideas and suggestions made to date, a long list of proposed mitigation measures has been put together. A cost benefit analysis was performed for the measures, and Bridgend Council’s Air Quality Work Steering Group agreed to prioritise those mitigations options that will manage and improve traffic flows through the Park Street AQMA. The preferred options include;
-No access onto St Leonards Road;
-Implement a new junction at the Heol-y-Nant turning; and
-Optimise the Park Street/ Angel Street/ Tondu Road Junction.
Detailed assessment:-BCBC/ SRS have appointed external professional consultants to examine the package of mitigation options as stated above, and in doing so will undertake a detailed transportation and air quality analysis. This will verify the resultant impact those measures as a collective will deliver for air quality within the Park Street AQMA and surrounding area. Works are underway and are currently ongoing by the consultants to outline these impacts.
It is important to note that the detailed assessment work will take account of expected traffic growth as a result of local nearby development.
SRS will utilise the results of the detailed assessment work and factor this into the FINAL version of the Park Street AQMA Air Quality Action Plan. This document will be released for public consultation prior to its formal adoption. It is anticipated the public consultation will take place in Summer 2021.
Non-automated:- Monitoring for nitrogen dioxide (NO2) with the use of non-automated passive diffusion tubes has continued within the Park Street AQMA and the surrounding area. These sites are placed at relevant locations that are representative of a sensitive receptor (place of residency), and conform to the monitoring requirements outlined in Defra’s Local Air Quality Management Technical Guidance (TG16), April 2018.
Automated:- Following consented planning permission and completion of a legal written agreement with the owners of the Quakers Meeting House in Park Street (87 Park Street), SRS were able to instruct contractors to begin works to install the new air quality monitoring unit. Due to COVID implications which impacted working arrangements the works were commissioned in October 2020.
The purpose of the automated site is to improve the understanding for air quality levels on Park Street and identify any subsequent impacts as a result of implemented mitigation measures. SRS administered and financed the site’s placement, and now operate and maintain the site performing regular calibrations and scheduled site maintenance visits. This site provides real-time data for pollutants nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and particulate matter (PM10). Visit the Air Quality in Wales’s website to view the quality air levels in Bridgend Park Street.
The site is scheduled to remain in place for a minimum until October 2024 which is stipulated in the license agreement, however this will be reviewed when that time approaches.
Have your say!
Welsh Government have released their White Paper for Wales’ Clean Air Bill for public consultation. To find out more information, you can review and respond to the consultation on the Welsh Government’s website.