Agenda item

Air Quality Annual Status Report

To consider the report of the Director Net Zero and City Management.





RECOMMENDED that Council note the statutory annual status report.


Reason for Decision: As set out in the report.









The Executive received the statutory Annual Status report which contained the monitoring data from 2022 and a summary of the actions taken in that year to improve local air quality. The Council had a statutory duty to submit an Annual Status Report to the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) and to present the report to Members at a local level. The Council’s role was to monitor and report on air quality in the city, with the approval for air quality matters being the responsibility of various partners.


Particular reference was made to the air quality monitoring process which was monitored through the two fixed air quality monitoring stations and 85 diffusion tube monitoring devices in deemed problem areas. The diffusion devices are temporarily setup and then sent to a laboratory for data analyses and the results are put through a Government report template for checking. Data is ultimately returned to Defra who report back to the Council. Members also noted that air quality had improved in the city over a 10 year period, with only Heavitree being in exceedance.


Members were also advised that a supplementary Defra Annual Appraisal report had been received prior to the meeting and had been circulated and tabled at the meeting and was available at supplementary document on the agenda. The Service Lead – Environmental Health and Community Safety provided an overview of the Defra report and findings.


Councillor Moore, as an opposition group leader, spoke on this item and welcomed the improvement of the air quality findings, but was mindful of the impacts of long term exposure to high levels of air pollution. She sought clarification on the air quality management area and whether that included the actions contained in the air quality management plan, and where some elements were no longer deliverable, that improvements needed be addressed.


Councillor Jobson, as an opposition group leader, spoke on this item and enquired if the report was dated for June, could it be brought to the Executive earlier to ensure it was up to date.


During the discussion the following points were made:-


·         the report figures showed a good improvement trend on air quality in various areas around the city, including the Heavitree corridor;

·         the report provided complex information, but had been presented in a very accessible and understandable document; and

·         could details on the Defra project be provided?


Portfolio Holder for Corporate & Democratic Services and Environmental Health advised that the Council had achieved four years of NO2 compliance and the monitoring of 90 sites had shown air quality hotspots had been reduced to just one area of exceedance which a large improvement. He highlighted that there was large amount of air quality information available, through the Council, Devon County Council and Defra.


In response to questions and points from Members, the Service Lead – Environmental Health and Community Safety advised


·         the air quality action plan was set for a review in 2024 and would also look at reviewing the air quality management area;

·         air quality data was required by June, for submission to various partners for input, including that of Defra. By bringing the report later, it would include any government commentary for completeness; and

·         in September 2022, a bid was put into Defra, for the Defra project, which was developing new technology to improve information gathering and the bid was confirmed as successful in April 2023. With the funding from Defra, work has been underway to develop virtual sensors to predict pollutant levels in traffic corridors, using AI technology to look at input values, display estimates of daily pollution concentrations and make appropriate predictions for inclusion in future reporting.


RECOMMENDED that Council note the statutory annual status report.



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