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Air Quality: Less reporting, more pragmatism - EPS' perspective

We hear the weekly, if not daily, news headlines over UK air quality, particularly in and around our larger cities, and the impact this is having on our health. It is a big deal – in terms of public health impact it’s really only second to smoking, so worse than obesity and alcohol. It reduces both the length and quality of people’s lives and costs a huge amount to the economy.

The argument for action on air quality is therefore overwhelming and addressing it is often required as part of the planning process but when looking at it the conventional way, in particular for new developments, it’s quite clear the sector is not delivering what it should. We need to move beyond producing assessments, reports and ticking boxes and actually deliver some outcomes.

It is a mistake to think you need to spend thousands of pounds on an assessment which is ineffective. That money needs to be better spent. There is occasionally a need for such an assessment but far more often, we don’t need to be experts to understand that thousands of extra diesel cars are unlikely to improve air quality.

EPS along with a Local Council have developed a meaningful approach to air quality by outlining a series low emission measures for incorporation within a development. We work with the architects and project teams to implement these measures so they are ready to go by the time the construction phase is looking at it, they are not expensive but they do work. Developers like them because they can be designed into their schemes from the outset with minimal cost implications and they know the scheme will be compliant. Councils like them because they need not get bogged down in arguments with consultants over whether levels of pollution will incrementally worsen or not - they see actual delivered material outcomes. We should all like them because they improve the air we breathe.

Our 14+ years of in-house experience in the air quality sector has steered us to this - our preferred approach: to seek minimal impact, as opposed to simply addressing poor air quality often when it is already too late. If you would like to discuss your air quality assessment needs or simply want to discuss any of the points raised here, then please do give us a call.