Draft Thanet Local Plan - 2031 - Pre-Submission Publication, Regulation 19

Air Quality

16.18 The Environment Act 1995 established a local air quality management regime which requires local authorities to review and assess ambient air quality in their areas against health-based standards for a number of specific pollutants as set out in regulations. It is then required to produce an Air Quality Action Plan. If there is a risk that levels of air pollution in any part of an authority's area will be higher than the prescribed objectives then the authority is required to designate an Air Quality Management Area (AQMA).

16.19 Thanet generally has good air quality; however there are areas at The Square in Birchington, the junction of Hereson Road/Boundary Road and High Street St Lawrence, Ramsgate where air quality is poor due to pollution from road transport. An urban wide Air Quality Management Area has been declared to enable effective management of air quality. The transport strategy that accompanies the plan is aiming to address this issue by proposing road improvements and new links to form an "inner circuit". Further details are available in chapter 6 New Strategic Routes Policy.

Map 6 - Thanet Urban Air Quality Management Area

16.20 Planning is an effective tool to improve air quality. It can be used to locate development to reduce emissions overall, and reduce the direct impacts of new development, through policy requirements.

16.21 An AQMA makes consideration of the air quality impacts of a proposed development important. However, there is still a need to regard air quality as a material factor in determining planning applications in any location. This is particularly important where the proposed development is not physically within the AQMA, but could have adverse impacts on air quality within it, or where air quality in that given area is close to exceeding guideline objectives itself.

16.22 The Council has produced an Air Quality Technical Planning Guidance August 2016, in conjunction with the Kent and Medway Air Quality Partnership. The guidance sets out the approach that should be adopted from pre-application stage through to submitting details to the local planning authority. The process involves initial screening to see if the development does not require any assessment and/or mitigation or if the development requires an air quality assessment and/or an emissions mitigation assessment. Advice from the Council's air quality officer should be sought early on in the process.

16.23 Developments that require the submission of an Air Quality Assessment include the following:

1) If the development is likely to have a significant impact upon an AQMA

2) If the development has the potential to cause a deterioration in local air quality (i.e. once completed it will increase pollutant concentrations)

3) If the development is located in an area of poor air quality (i.e. it will expose future occupiers to unacceptable pollutant concentrations) whether the site lies within a designated AQMA or, if so advised by the Local Authority, or a "candidate" AQMA

4) If the demolition/construction phase will have a significant impact on the local environment (e.g. through fugitive dust and exhaust emissions)

16.24 The types of development that are likely to require an air quality assessment are identified in the Kent and Medway Air Quality Partnerships Technical Planning Guidance August 2016, although the Council's air quality officer will confirm whether an air quality assessment is required or if an emissions mitigation assessment will suffice.

16.25 Where an air quality and/or an emissions mitigation assessment are required, they should be carried out by the developer's air quality consultant.

16.26 The Air Quality Technical Planning Guidance provides advice on the level of information required, the process, assessment and possible mitigation and applicants are encouraged to refer to this document. It is vital that air quality is discussed at the pre-application stage where possible, to avoid delays in the processing of the planning application. Applicants should always seek to use the most up to date information on air quality when carrying out an assessment. Early consultation with the Council's air quality officer is recommended to determine whether an air quality assessment is required before submitting a planning application.

16.27 In order to improve air quality generally within the District, the Air Quality Technical Planning Guidance encourages the use of less polluting transport, by requiring proposals for new residential development of 10 or more units and commercial/industrial developments above a certain size, to provide electric car charging points.

16.28 This approach compliments the Council's aim to improve the health and wellbeing of its residents. The Council will also work with the relevant providers of public transport to provide less polluting forms of transport through a Quality Bus Partnership.

Policy SE05 - Air Quality

All major development schemes should promote a shift to the use of sustainable low emission transport to minimise the impact of vehicle emissions on air quality, Development will be located where it is accessible to support the use of public transport, walking and cycling.

New development must ensure that users are not significantly adversely affected by the air quality and include mitigation measures where appropriate.

All developments which either individually or cumulatively are likely to have a detrimental impact on air quality, will be required to submit an Air Quality and/or Emissions Mitigation Assessment, in line with the Air Quality Technical Planning Guidance 2016 and any subsequent revisions.

The Air Quality Assessment should address the cumulative effect of further emissions.

The Emission Mitigation Assessment should address any proposed mitigation measures through good design and offsetting measures that would prevent the National Air Quality Objectives being exceeded or reduce the extent of the air quality deterioration. These will be of particular importance within the urban AQMA, associated areas and areas of lower air quality.

Proposals that fail to demonstrate these will not be permitted.