Agenda item

Annual Status Report on Air Quality in Thurrock


Peter Bond, Air Quality Pollution Officer • Environmental Protection introduced the report in relation to the annual status report on air quality in the borough of Thurrock.


The local authority has an obligation under part four of the Environment Act wherein the local authority is required to declare an air quality management area where the air is monitored or modelled exceedances of the national air quality objectives. Within 18 months of declaration, the local authority is required to produce an air quality action plan.


·       All of the monitoring sites for nitrogen dioxide (NO2) were compliant in 2022.

·       Only two monitoring sites were still within 10% of the relevant air quality objective. Lakeside Tesco and Purfleet-on-Thames

·       There has been a slight increase in levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) at some of our monitoring stations between 2021 and 2022. Possibly related to impact of traffic returning after the Covid-19 pandemic.

·       The increase compared with 2021 still is a substantial decrease compared with 2019 pre the Covid-19 pandemic.

·       Particulate matter (ultra fine dust and one of the key pollutants of concern in the borough) were compliant with the national air quality objectives for 2022 across all stations in the borough.


The following points were raised by members:

·       Member asked what a diffusion tube is.

o   A diffusion tube is a passive sampler, passive meaning that there's no electricity. It is a 5cm long Perspex tube with a cap on either end. In one cap there's a filter coated in a substance that degrades predictably with exposure to nitrogen dioxide (NO2).

·       Member asked for the locations of the diffusion tubes and if there were present on A roads and particularly London Road.

o   Most of the monitoring sites are near residential buildings.

o   London Road in Purfleet-on-Thames had the highest recording of nitrogen dioxide 39.3 micrograms per cubic metre, 40 micrograms is the annual air quality objective.

o   Nitrogen dioxide (NO2)did decrease on London Road between 2021 and 2022

·       Member asked about a site on Pilgrims Lane and if the lorries were adding to pollution.

o    Possibly, due to the type of monitoring you can't exactly tell what a source of the pollution is from the data.

·       Member asked the reason for the reduction of air pollution and if it was related to an increase in electric vehicles.

o   Private diesel vehicles that are the dominant emitter of nitrogen dioxide (NO2), electric vehicle will be responsible for some improvement and an increasingly in regulation from the European emission standards.

·       Member asked if pollution in Purfleet-on-Thames was due to vehicles more than anything else and if it was nitrogen dioxide (NO2) that is high in the area.

o   The dominant emission source of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) on London Road in Purfleet-on-Thames will be from road traffic a substantial amount of HTV traffic connect to the ports.

o   Has legal levels of air pollution.

·       Member asked if there were an extra 2,000 vehicles on London Road over the next a couple of weeks to a month, would that increase that nitrogen dioxide (NO2) levels.

o   Yes, it is likely that 2,000 extra vehicles would have some impact on the nitrogen dioxide levels.

·       Member asked how use of river taxis/ferries would alter the data.

o   In general, providing more sustainable transport options will reduce emissions.

·       Member asked if monitors are located near schools.

o   Yes, a list can be found in the report.

·       Member asked if environmental protection has an input in other departments to keeping air quality low regarding the development in the borough and if there were any concerns regarding funding.

o   Air quality action plan works with a wide range of other departments and external partners.

o   It's a statutory obligation for the local authority to produce the report, thus funding will continue.

·       Member brought up the issue of people sitting in their cars with an engine on by schools, known as idling.

o   Reduction of engine idling is one of the actions in the local authority’s air quality action plan.

o   Parking enforcement officers go to schools and inform drivers who are idling of the law to create awareness.

o   ACTION: member said with the motion going through at the moment regarding school, too also make schools aware of engine idling

·       Member asked if the wind direction make a difference to the air quality.

o   Finer particles like PM 2.5, can travel thousands of kilometres, which is why we often see impacts of Saharan dust in Thurrock.

o   Easter time the borough gets high pollution episodes because the prevailing wind direction reverses and transports emissions from the continent which contributes to background levels.

·       Member asked if the rest of the country had cleaner air would the borough receive cleaner air due to prevailing westerly winds.

o   Yes, and there is national work on going to improve air quality.

o   Background air pollution is one of the main sources of air pollution in the borough.

·       Member asked if there was monitoring of air pollution on the River Thames.

o   Monitoring of emissions from the river is something that the Port of London Authority is looking into.

o   Not a great concern with pollution from the river

·       Member asked how the borough of Thurrock compared to other local authorities with regards to air quality

o   All monitoring stations are showing compliance with the national air quality objectives.

o   The borough of Thurrock probably has far better air quality than any metropolitan authority in England or the United Kingdom.

·       Member shared her concerns regarding the impact of development in the borough on air quality.

o   Air Quality Pollution Officer is a statutory consultee on planning applications. If a risk of increasing air pollution is identified an air quality assessment will take place with suggestions on reducing emissions further from the development.




That the Cleaner Greener and Safer Overview and Scrutiny Committee:


1.     Note the contents of this report.



At 20:24pm,Peter Bond, Air Quality Pollution Officer • Environmental Protection left the meeting.



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