Under Part IV of the Environment Act 1995, West Somerset Council are required to regularly review and assess air quality in the area to assess the likelihood of an exceedance occurring from any of the prescribed air quality pollutants. If there is a risk of an exceedance, the Council must proceed to a more detailed assessment for that parameter. At present the annual status reports conclude there is no need to go a more detailed assessment for any of these prescribed pollutants.
The reporting of air quality falls within the service delivery of Environmental Health, but it is also of potential interest to other bodies associated with air quality management, and bodies whose actions may impact on air quality, such as those involved in planning, public health, consultants and transport officers.
Whilst no local air quality management area(s) have been designated, the latest report (Annual Status Report (ASR) 2018) explains the actions being taken in West Somerset to improve air quality. It explains that actions are primarily delivered through planning policies that remove the need to travel, for some to have full travel plans and to obtain designs that maximise the alternatives to the car.
For example the report summarises the actions taken with respect to the largest development in the area (Hinkley Point C) and limits being placed on parking at the site, the construction of 4 park and ride facilities, a new Campus type development, freight consolidation facilities located at junctions off the M5, plus a new jetty to be constructed etc.
The current ASR also discusses the local priorities and challenges now faced, especially in seeking a general emission reduction, rather than the more traditional methods that focused on pollution hot spots. This general emission reduction approach is associated with the wider health benefits from reduction in emissions from the small particulates fraction (PM2.5) for which it is thought there is no accepted threshold effect. The report shows trends being reported by NAEI of the primary sources of PM2.5. Emissions from the domestic sector burning wood is the largest source of this PM2.5 fraction in the UK. The ASR discusses actions being taken to reduce the emissions of PM2.5. It is recognised that for just a 1ug/m3 PM2.5 reduction would result in an increase of life expectancy from birth of that population exposed of about 20 days (Defra, PHE, 2017
). There is separate page on our website with further information on combustion of wood
To get up to date information on air quality in this area there is an App available to download and is compatible with IPhone or Android devices (Ubreathe