The Air Quality Officer presented the report to the Committee. He confirmed the Council had a statutory obligation to produce an annual statement on air quality and that there had been a general improvement seen in air quality across the board in Thurrock.
The Chair queried if COMAH (Control of Major Accident Hazards) sites give off emissions.
The Strategic Lead of Public Protection confirmed that the HSE (Health and Safety Executive) and Environment agency regulate them. The Council however does have involvement from an emergency planning perspective but COMAH emissions fall outside of local air quality management.
The Chair commented that we needed to get cars off the road in order to reduce air pollution and that’s unlikely to happen.
The Strategic Lead of Public Protection confirmed that their role was to offer advice to the highways team for example about removing obstructions that may cause air pollution or advice to the planning team regarding building a school playground next to a highly polluting road. He agreed they couldn’t just close the A13 and commented that there are other solutions such as improved vehicle design which can also assist with pollution.
Councillor Muldowney thanked the Air Quality officer for the report. She confirmed that residents are concerned about air pollution. She raised the issue of PM2.5 and that recent research about this fine particulate matter has confirmed that it can have a significant impact on health. She queried why the 2021 figures are described as estimated on page 76.
The Air Quality officer confirmed they don’t have PM2.5 monitoring in all od the stations and they estimate off the PM10 levels. He confirmed they are monitoring it at two sites in Stanford-Le-Hope and Tilbury and they have recently put a new monitor at the Grays monitoring station but they will not get the data from it until next year or possibly the year after.
Councillor Muldowney asked the Air Quality Officer about the new levels for PM2.5 that the Government are supposed to be bringing in.
The Air Quality Officer confirmed that the Government has not confirmed the new levels yet and that the decision has been delayed.
Councillor Muldowney stated that she was concerned the levels of PM2.5 are above the levels the World Health Organisation recommend as low risk to health.
Councillor Muldowney queried if there is any work being completed regarding the impact of the Lower Thames Crossing on air pollution in the borough.
The Strategic Lead of Public Protection confirmed they have 4 fixed stations and 69 monitoring points which is considerably more than most neighbouring boroughs. They are also commissioning some air quality modelling which will provide a map of more detailed data on air quality. He confirmed they are likely to be called upon to give comments on the proposed Lower Thames Crossing route when they finalise it and they should be able to estimate from traffic use figures the impact of the Lower Thames Crossing route on the surrounding areas. It is likely there will be potential reductions in West Thurrock and Purfleet and at the Dartford crossing as the Lower Thames Crossing might reduce the traffic flow in these areas but increases will be expected in the immediate area of the Lower Thames Crossing.
At 21.28 the Committee agreed to raise Standing Orders so the meeting could continue beyond 9.30pm
Councillor Chukwu stated that Thurrock was previously described as one of the most polluted areas in the country, he queried if this narrative has now changed.
The Air Quality Officer confirmed that it was quite a positive picture now. There is a varied picture across the borough and the only site not compliant was on the London Road in Purfleet.
The chair suggested more trees could be the solution.
The Air Quality Officer clarified that the answer is more complicated than that as trees can have detrimental effect by reducing the dispersing effect wind has.
1.1 That the report be noted.