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AQMA DESIGNATION WORKSHOP – LONDON BOROUGH OF SOUTHWARK OFFICER’S SEMINAR AND WORKSHOP May 2000 This brief report is intended to highlight a number of issues arising from debate as to where to draw an AQMA boundary. It has been written by N Woodfield, who facilitated one of the workshop groups, and is therefore a brief account of her observations. WORKSHOP OUTCOMES Departments represented at the seminar and workshop included: Development Control & Building Group, Environmental Management & Education Services, Transport Planning, Planning Policy & Economic Development, Regulatory Services and the Pollution Control Group. Officers were split up into two groups and were given two specific tasks. The first was to define the boundaries of the Air Quality Management Area for the Borough. Officers were asked to reach a consensus view and illustrate the AQMA on an accompanying plan, giving the following questions some consideration: Whether to restrict the AQMA to the area and roads where exceedances are predicted? Whether to encompass the residential areas between the main roads? Whether to consider a wider area based on natural or physical boundaries? The influence of neighbouring authorities? The second question involved developing the Local Air Quality Action Plan. Officers were asked to consider the measures available to the council which are/cold be delivered by the various service areas or collectively with others which will have a significant impact on reducing air pollution and towards meeting the government targets for Southwark by 2005. The officers were also asked to consider those options which should be developed with adjoining authorities and how proposals could be taken forward. 1. Designation of AQMAs in the London Borough of Southwark The first group identified a number of possible AQMA scenarios, and certain unfavourable scenarios, and there was a general consensus that a block designation approach was more favourable than a web of designated areas. All agreed that the areas where Air Quality Objectives (AQOs) were certain to be exceeded should be encompassed within the AQMA, and also those areas identified as likely to exceed the objectives (i.e. the areas of uncertainty). Major roads, along which exceedences are identified, where considered possible boundaries, and more particularly the South Circular Road towards the south of the Borough was considered a potential AQMA boundary which would result in a large AQMA covering the whole of the northern area of the borough. On the one hand it was considered advantageous to widen the AQMA to include as much of the Borough as possible, however this was considered too great a resource implication for the authority. The authority would also have to justify declaring an AQMA where exceedences of the air quality objectives are not predicted through the modelling undertaken. Ward boundaries were considered arbitrary, and a more practicable boundary would be postcode boundaries. Conservation areas within the borough also provide a potential boundary. One particular physical boundary was considered feasible – an embankment along which the railway line runs, and which serves to split the residential area into two distinct communities. An AQMA to the north of this embankment, which runs east to west through the borough, would encompass all the areas of predicted exceedance, and would be potentially more socially acceptable to the community. The first group therefore considered a blocked or mitten approach to designating an AQMA, using a physical, geographical feature to determine the boundary. The second group did not arrive at a consensus, and instead had chosen two potential scenarios for declaring an AQMA for the Borough. Firstly, the concept of defining specific areas to be an AQMA was considered to have the potential to cause complacent in those areas not included as part of the declaration. On that basis, the first scenario was to declare the whole Borough of Southwark and AQMA, and identify priority areas for specific action within the larger defined area. The second scenario was similar to the consensus reached by the first group in terms of using the railway line as a natural boundary to the AQMA. 2. Developing an Air Quality Action Plan for Southwark A very clear emphasis arising from discussions on the development of an air quality action plan was the need for regionally-based measures to secure air quality objectives, and the need for the newly elected London Mayor to enact measures across London as a whole. This was considered the key mechanisms for addressing the traffic growth and movement of traffic both within Southwark and surrounding authorities. Borough residents do not generate most of Southwark’s traffic, and is instead commuter traffic for those working in the borough. A number of initiatives and measures were identified as assisting with the overall move towards improving air quality, and these include a policy to reduce traffic by 25% by 2005, through controlled parking. The use of low emission vehicles is also identified as an option, and the issue of a potential Low Emission Zone or Clear Zone was discussed, although there are concerns for the potential impacts of such schemes on the regeneration of areas of the Borough. A cultural shift was recognised as being a solution in the long term, and an option for which the Borough is in a position to assist with. Education underpins this.
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