Sunday, 17 January 2016

Air pollution and over-development: Exeter and East Devon "recording high readings" of nitrogen dioxide emissions

Air pollution is certainly not as sexy as climate change:
COP21: Climate change deal obscures problems, says Friends of the Earth head | Climate Change | Environment | The Independent
Futures Forum: Climate change: "The UN deal will require people-power from organisations like ours to make politicians live up to their rhetoric."

And yet air pollution kills:
Futures Forum: Air pollution: "A major and awkward factor behind dirty British air is Britain itself - home grown pollution from our factories and power stations and traffic."

Exeter is expanding:
Exeter and East Devon Growth Point
Chance for Devon businesses to take Fast Track to Growth | Exeter Express and Echo

... on the M5:
Lidl depot will attract more national firms to Exeter Growth Point, predict JLL | Exeter Express and Echo
Futures Forum: An 'inter-modal freight depot', a giant Lidl's warehouse ... and when a 'site employing up to 450 people' is not 'counted as an employment site'

Exeter has got a problem:

Air pollution 'worse' than passive smoking for health, Exeter council official warns

By AWalmesley | Posted: March 04, 2015
A low emissions strategy was adopted by Exeter City Council. It focuses on air pollution from traffic in the city.
Research shows particles of nitrogen dioxide were responsible for an estimated 29,000 premature deaths in the UK in 2008. That would be equivalent to 42 deaths in Exeter.
In 2011 Exeter City Council declared an air quality management area within the city, because measured levels of nitrogen dioxide were higher in some parts of the city than European Union limit values.

Local Pollution:
Pollution is not limited to the skies. Exeter International Airport is one of those airports identified by a report carried out by the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy as being beyond the EU limit for Nitrogen Dioxide pollution. This Nitrogen Dioxide limit is 40 micrograms per cubic metre. NO2 pollution at Exeter Airport was found to be 50% beyond this limit. This pollution is caused principally, not by aeroplanes, but by cars, taxis, and buses that bring passengers to and from the airport. Exeter Airport is poorly served by public transport; there are minimal bus services and no rail link. Therefore the main problem is cars and taxis.
This EU limit becomes law in 2010. By this time Exeter Airport must significantly reduce the local pollution it is causing. However, by this time it could be producing twice as much pollution.
Households in Clyst Honiton that are directly under the flight path and close to the approach roads must be already experiencing dangerous levels of Nitrogen Dioxide pollution. Their future health depends upon a responsible decision to reduce the size of Exeter Airport.

STOP the Expansion of Exeter Airport - The Case Against

And this weekend we hear it's getting worse - from the WHO:

Shock figures to reveal deadly toll of global air pollution

John Vidal and Toby Helm Saturday 16 January 2016 
World Health Organisation describes new data as ‘health emergency’, with rising concern likely to influence decision over Heathrow expansion
The World Health Organisation has issued a stark new warning about deadly levels of pollution in many of the world’s biggest cities, claiming poor air quality is killing millions and threatening to overwhelm health services across the globe.

Shock figures to reveal deadly toll of global air pollution | Environment | The Guardian

And a week ago, the EU posted its figures - showing that Exeter is among the top dirtiest cities:

London takes just one week to breach annual air pollution limits
Adam Vaughan Friday 8 January 2016 10.58 GMT
Parts of the capital have already breached EU hourly limits for nitrogen dioxide pollution which causes thousands of premature deaths each year
Other sites recording high readings so far this year include ones in Aberdeen, Belfast, Exeter, Glasgow and Stoke-on-Trent, and several other roads in London.

London takes just one week to breach annual air pollution limits | Environment | The Guardian

But no one is listening.

Two years ago, an application for 'development' in Honiton raised the issue of yet more nitrogen oxide emissions:

Honiton Garage, Turks Head Lane, Honiton
Traffic congestion and pollution
It has been well publicised locally that there are traffic congestion issues at the Turks Head junction. Prior to any of this work and with the recent addition of the Aldi supermarket, I now find myself waiting in traffic every day as I exit the A30 and try to get home. The addition of an increased volume of traffic and larger vehicles (I believe the workshops have been specifically designed to cater for larger buses and trucks) now able to fill up with diesel will simply add further pain and chaos to this junction. The extension of the petrol station will encourage a significant increase of larger lorries to pull off the A30 to fill up with diesel. I struggle to understand how these will then get back on to the A30 without causing further chaos at the Turks Head junction.
It has also been bought to my attention that the July 2013 Devon County Council Transport report (see attached) states that following monitoring, the junction of the Turks Head and Exeter Road is the only site in the town that exceeds the European maximum level for Nitrogen Dioxide emissions - see exert below.
"1.4. Air Quality - 1.4.1. An Air Quality Management Area (AQMA) was declared for the full length of Exeter Road, High Street and Kings Road within the town in 2010. The latest monitoring information from East Devon District Council indicates that the only site currently exceeding European maximum levels for Nitrogen Dioxide is that at Exeter Road near the Turks Head junction. The whole route will however need to be managed carefully in the context of the future growth proposed in the pre-submission version Local Plan, with a particular focus on minimising short car journeys. Walking, cycling and public transport will play a key role in this and investment in infrastructure to support these modes will therefore be required. Improvements in vehicle technology are also expected to contribute to reductions in emissions."
Increased hotel traffic due to the increased number of rooms and increased garage / workshop traffic due to the increased number of petrol pumps / workshop bays will only add to this pollution.

13/2698/MFUL | Demolition of existing buildings and erection of workshop, shop with fast food outlet, extended canopy, additional fuel pumps, extended parking areas and relocated car wash | Honiton Garage Turks Head Lane Honiton EX14 1BQ

As an observer points out, the WHO findings have implications for development in the likes of Sidmouth, now starting its Neighbourhood Planning and Port Royal Regeneration projects:

And - Who Cares: Sidmouth Folk Festival Wednesday

How far this issue will be taken on is not clear:
Futures Forum: Traffic Management Plan for Sidmouth: looking for 'low cost, quick win' solutions

See also:
Futures Forum: Sustainable transport in new developments

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