LAQM: monitoring objectives
Part IV of the Environment Act 1995 implements Local Air Quality Management (LAQM). LAQM requires local authorities to provide an assessment - detailed, if deemed significant - of air quality impacts in their area. Nicholas Davey, Senior Consultant at Stanger Science & Environment (SSE), examines the impact on, and value to, industry.
Under Local Air Quality Management (LAQM), local authorities have to consider the present and future quality of
air and assess whether prescribed air quality objectives are likely
to be achieved by specified deadlines. This involves a review of emissions from industry and other pollutant sources within a local authority’s area. It is achieved
by carrying out a three-stage process of emissions review and assessment, with each progressive stage requiring more detail than the one before.
Stage 1 of the Local Air Quality Management (LAQM) process
provides an initial screening
of pollutant sources within an area. Emissions from both Part
A and Part B industrial processes are assessed. Initially, the industrial processes within an area
are screened on a checklist basis which identifies those that
are potentially significant sources of specific pollutants. Where these processes are identified as “potentially significant”, more detailed assessment is carried out at Stage 2, either through simple modelling or basic monitoring. Where Stage 2 indicates that exceedance of
an air quality objective is likely, the local authority is required
to undertake Stage 3 review
and assessment, involving detailed modelling and monitoring.
This assessment will accurately indicate the likelihood and
extent of exceedance, so it is imperative that monitoring data supplied to local authorities is
representative and up-to-date. Where exceedance is demonstrated by Stage 3, the local authority is required to designate an
Air Quality Management Area (AQMA).
LAQM, however, has many benefits to industry and should be approached positively by all
sectors. It provides an assessment of the air quality impacts of a process and, where identified
as potentially significant, these
are assessed in detail at
no expense to the operator. Sophisticated atmospheric dispersion modelling and validation monitoring are usually relatively expensive exercises – often requested by government bodies. Although in some local authority areas the larger processes may
be asked to contribute to the
funding of the work, local authorities are under an obligation
to carry out this work to the best of their financial means, regardless of funding from industry. However, where industry decides to
contribute funding to these assessments, good PR is likely to result and demonstrates a forward thinking company. The review and assessment may also provide
evidence to turn around a negative public perception, as was found with a large-scale air quality
monitoring project in Barry,
South Wales, which Stanger
carried out over the period
The Barry Industrial Complex (pictured above) lies approximately 10 miles west of Cardiff
in South Wales. The companies located at the complex include AES, Blagden Cellobond, Cabot, Dow Chemical, Dow Corning, EVC, National Power, Inspec
and Zeon. The pollutants monitored included the majority
of those outlined in the National Air Quality Strategy plus many others. In total, 24 different
pollutants where monitored which were based on the processes within the complex. These included both inorganic and organic
pollutants plus different size fractions of particulate.
The results from the monitoring were found to be very encouraging and demonstrated that all pollutants set-out in the National Air Quality Strategy (NAQS) were below their respective criteria at all four sites when compared with the most recent air quality objectives. Other pollutants not covered by the NAQS were compared with Environmental Assessment Levels. Formaldehyde was the only pollutant that showed higher than expected concentrations, but further work revealed that these were comparable to those measured in Cardiff City Centre.
The monitoring programme has proven to the local community that air quality surrounding the site is not the hazard that was originally perceived. The joint funding of this programme between the industries within
the Responsible Care Group
and the Environment Agency
has resulted in good PR for the companies at little cost. It has also provided re-assurance to the both the local residents and the companies involved that air quality impacts on the surrounding area are minimal.
“We are extremely encouraged by the results of the first year’s report, says Andrew Littlewood, chairman of the Responsible
Care Group. “As an industrial complex we are committed
to working to the highest possible environmental standards. The Responsible Care Group very much hopes that the report will
be welcomed by the local community as a positive sign that
the complex is operating to very high standards.”
SSE has also recently completed Stage 2 Review and Assessment of air quality on behalf of Newport County Borough Council. The area has more than 20 Part
A processes within its boundaries, and some of these have been
identified as potentially significant sources of nitrogen dioxide,
sulphur dioxide and PM10
(particulate matter). More detailed assessment will shortly be carried out using similar methods to
those used for the Barry monitoring programme in order to accurately assess the likelihood
of achieving the air quality
objectives for each of these pollutants. Stanger’s work for
the Newport air quality review
and assessment has been selected by the DETR as an example
of Best Practice.
There appears, however, to be significant disparity between companies in their willingness to supply data for the purposes of LAQM – it should be in their interest to assess the impacts of their activities in sensitive areas. Besides, LAQM offers the most cost-effective method of assessing air quality impacts.
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