Dudley’s air quality has improved dramatically since the 1950s when ‘clean air’ legislation was introduced to prevent air pollution episodes created by heavy industry and from the burning of coal. However, air pollution is still an issue today and poor air quality can affect health and everyday quality of life.
Nowadays the main sources of pollution in Dudley are emissions from road transport (including lorries, buses and cars). Petrol and diesel motor vehicles emit a wide variety of pollutants, principally carbon monoxide (CO), oxides of nitrogen (NOx), volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and particulates (PM10), which have an increasing impact on urban air quality. High levels of pollution tend to be associated with busy main roads and junctions.
Under the Clean Air Act 1993, it is an offence to cause or permit emissions of 'dark smoke' from industrial or trade premises (includes building & demolition). Burning can be deemed to have taken place (without witnessing a bonfire) if the materials that have been burnt on the premises are likely to give rise to dark smoke, e.g. cable, paint, etc. Cable burning is also a specific offence unless authorised.
The Clean Air Act 1993 also enables local authorities to declare any part of their district as a Smoke Control Area.
Planning and Air Quality
Local planning decisions have significant potential to affect local air quality in many ways including:
Increased vehicle emissions from additional vehicle trips associated with the development and the creation of traffic flow impacts
Location and design of industrial emissions sources
Location of residential premises
The National Planning Policy Framework requires developers to take into account local authority air quality needs and low emission strategies. Whilst planning policy cannot solve immediate air quality issues it clearly has a role to play so that any likely development scheme impacts are reasonably mitigated and future scheme occupants are able to make green travel choices. The West Midlands local authorities led by Dudley Council have produced as part of the Low Emissions Towns and Cities Project, the Good Practice Air Quality Guidance which sets out a simplified approach to dealing with air quality within the planning system.
The Black Country Air Quality Supplementary Planning Document emerged from the development of the LETCP Good Practice Air Quality Guidance May 2014. This applies to the whole Dudley borough and can be found on the Planning website.
The guidance seeks to minimise road transport emissions associated with development and to counter the cumulative impacts from the aggregation of incremental emissions arising from each development scheme. The document provides a classification scheme for development and lists mitigation measures which should be associated with each class of development.
Details on the standards for air quality can be found using the link below:
Air Quality Steering Group
Dudley Council have recently set up an air quality steering group comprising planning, transport and air quality officers; the group have been tasked with developing effective policies that will integrate local air quality issues into land use and transport planning. They will meet on a regular basis to discuss how these policies can be amended and applied to resolve problematic situations and improve air quality or minimise receptor exposure.
New Funding to Encourage Plug-In Car Use (UK)
The plug-in car grant scheme began in 2011, it has been revised several times since. In the budget announcement of March 2020 zero-emission cars (fully electric cars, not including hybrid vehicles) priced below £50,000 will be eligible to receive a grant of up to £3,000. Small vans could receive a grant of up to £8,000, large vans and trucks up to £20,000, taxis up to £7,500 and motorbikes up to £1,500. The rates of the plug-in vehicle grants are subject to change overtime depending on how the markets develop.
Review and Assessment
Since 1997 local authorities in the UK have been carrying out Air Quality Review And Assessment of air quality in their area. The aim of the review is to make sure that the national air quality objectives will be achieved. If a local authority finds any locations where the objectives are not likely to be achieved, it must declare an Air Quality Management Area (AQMA).
Telephone: 0300 555 2345
Environmental Safety and Health
3-5 St James's Road