NSCA calls for rethink on air quality

Environmental protection organisation NSCA is calling for a fundamental rethink of the system of air quality management in the UK and Europe. Speaking at NSCA's annual meeting, the Environmental Review of the Year, held in December, Secretary General Richard Mills said: "The basis for air quality policy and legislation has undergone a major shift since the early nineties, when current measures were developed. There has been a step change in the understanding of the effects and behaviour of pollutants, and issues such as chronic personal exposure and the lack of effects thresholds have come to prominence. Air quality policy and regulation needs to reflect these changes and new approaches will need to be developed."

Mr Mills praised both the Government and local authorities for the effective way in which the air quality strategy, and local air quality management, had been implemented. It was clear, he said, that certain aspects, such as review and assessment, would need to remain, but that overall goals and approaches needed to be reassessed. He also called for greater integration with other policy areas, particularly climate change and law and order. “The status of environmental crime and enforcement needs to be given the same profile and priority as other areas, such as anti-social behaviour.

“Lack of police co-operation has hampered the implementation of a number of measures aimed at improving air quality, and this should not be allowed to continue” he said. Referring to NSCA’s recent work on Limit Values, he said that NSCA had already developed initial proposals for the reform of the system of air quality regulation in Europe, and was promoting these within the CAFÉ process. While not yet a complete solution, they do provide a useful starting point for the kind of reforms which will be necessary to maintaining a credible, usable and effective regulatory system for air quality.

The European Commission needed to accept the implications of new evidence and the tensions in the existing system, and to fully engage in the debate on how reform should be taken forward and what its goals should be. While CAFÉ offered an opportunity to do this, the forthcoming expansion of the Union will add greater necessity, simply through the inherent difficulty in regulating divergent air quality circumstances though a “one size fits all” system.

Air Quality and Development Control Guidance

NSCA and the UWE’s Air Quality Management Resource Centre are teaming up to produce guidance on air quality and development control. Over the past year a number of cases have to handle the air quality come to light which highlight the need for guidance on how implications of development proposals, particularly in an AQMA. In particular, the guidance will seek to provide advice on: at is significant, in terms of pollutant increases; what to look for from consultants reports, and when to ask for them; how to handle low polluting developments in AQMAs; and what mitigating measures can be attached to planning approvals.

The guidance will contain case studies and worked examples, and will be produced in Spring, next year. If you would like to get involved in developing this guidance, or if you have any examples of where conditions have been attached to planning decisions for air quality purposes, contact Tim Williamson at NSCA.
The NSCA has recently launched a new, expanded and enhanced website at: www.nsca.org.uk

World Clean Air Congress for UK

The International Union of Air Pollution Prevention and Environmental Protection Associations (IUAPPA) have announced that the next World Clean Air Congress is to be held in London. The most important international gathering in the air quality calendar, this is the first time for many years that the triennial Congress has come to Europe.

The Congress expects to attract delegates from over 40 countries, with provision for presentation of some 400 papers.

As well as the environmental issues confronting local authorities and regulators, key themes of the Congress will include climate change, long range transport of air pollution, noise and environmental problems of mega cities and technologies for a low carbon future. Under the title “Environment at the Turning Point”, a particular focus will be on the relationship of climate change and pollution and its impact on health, natural resources and socio-economic systems.

Commenting on the decision to hold the Congress in London, Richard Mills, NSCA Secretary General, said: “undertaking such a large event in such a short time will be a major challenge, but we are confident we will enjoy the support of all the Society’s members and friends, Government, fellow NGOs and the environmental industry in the UK.

“NSCA warmly welcomed IUAPPA’s decision. We relish this major opportunity to raise the profile of environmental issues in the UK and elsewhere at a critical time; to contribute effectively to science and policy; and to show to the world what the UK environmental sciences, technology and industry can offer.”

The programme is now finalised and papers are invited on he following main topics (abstracts required by 16 March 2004):

  • Climate change and air pollution
  • Air pollution
  • Resource efficiency and waste
  • Transport environment and the sustainable
  • city
  • Environmental management and regulation: from pollution control to pollution prevention
  • Business and sustainable development

Full details of the areas which it is planned to cover within these main topics – together with arrangements for submitting abstracts are included in the Call for Papers.

Four special policy development seminars which will build upon Congress sessions to explore in depth options for addressing key international environmental issues are also being developed; these will cover: developing networks for controlling transboundary air pollution; air quality in cities; environmental regulation; and promoting technologies for a low carbon future. Social events will include an evening on the Thames and a gala dinner at the Guildhall.

The Call for Papers can be viewed on the Congress website, or email Loveday Murley at NSCA for a copy.

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