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Greater Cambridge Air Quality Strategy 2024 - 2029

Meeting: 21/03/2024 - Environment and Community Scrutiny Committee (Item 17)

17 Greater Cambridge Air Quality Strategy 2024 - 2029 pdf icon PDF 511 KB

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Matter for Decision

Local Air Quality Management (LAQM) requires Local Authorities to monitor key pollutants (NO2 & PM10) across their district and report against target levels. Data shows objective levels had now been achieved across Cambridge. National legally binding PM2.5 targets had been set under the Environmental Target Regulations and levels in Cambridge were around the target annual mean.


As objective levels had been achieved within the Air quality Management Area (AQMA) the Council were required to revoke this; negating the need for an Air quality Action Plan. Under the Environment Act 2021 an Air Quality Strategy was required if LAQM objective levels were achieved. The Strategy must outline how air quality would be maintained and improved; including how it would help achieve national PM2.5 targets.


It was agreed at the Environmental & Community Scrutiny Committee, October 2023 to pursue a joint Air Quality Strategy with South Cambridgeshire District Council (SCDC) and to work towards World Health Organisation (WHO) air quality guideline targets. SCDC agreed these decisions at their equivalent committee in December 2023.


It was widely accepted there was no safe level of air pollution. Greater Cambridge was a major growth area with large scale development and population increase coming forward in the next 10-20 years. This Strategy sought to strike a balance in supporting the productivity, economy, and prosperity of Greater Cambridge; whilst continuing to deliver improvements in air quality and the positive health outcomes that improved air quality would deliver for both residents and visitors to the Greater Cambridge area. The Strategy focused on sources of pollution that could be influenced locally by all partner organisations.


Interim targets had been set to be delivered over the lifetime of the strategy. Where appropriate, mechanisms for delivering these improvements working alongside delivery partners had been identified. These were outlined as an Action Plan (Appendix B of the Strategy).


The strategy met Council legislative responsibilities under LAQM.


Decision of Executive Councillor for Climate Action and Environment

Approved the adoption of the ‘Greater Cambridge Air Quality Strategy’ as per Appendix A of the Officer’s report.


Reason for the Decision

As set out in the Officer’s report.


Any Alternative Options Considered and Rejected

Not applicable.


Scrutiny Considerations

The Committee received a report from the Environmental Quality & Growth Manager.


The Committee made the following comments in response to the report:

      i.         Asked for publicity of actions to improve air quality to be publicised eg through Cambridge Matters to engage the public and show progress.

    ii.         Data needed to be accessible for residents to understand why they needed to change their behaviour.


The Environmental Quality & Growth Manager said the following in response to Members’ questions:

      i.         It was difficult to convert pollutant levels into easy to digest comparisons for the public such as numbers of lives saved by reducing pollutants by X amount. There was little information nationally available since 2019. Would work on this next year to give tangible outcomes from the Air Strategy.

    ii.         Various sites periodically measured pollutant levels across the city.

   iii.         Air quality had generally improved across the city over the last twenty years and now met statutory guidelines. Particulate levels varied day-to-day and during the day. Exposure levels varied between different types of pollutants. This made it hard to mitigate their effects. For example Officers had worked with schools to suggest staggering closing times. It was hard to measure the impact as pollutant levels varied.

  iv.         New legislation was in place about solid fuel burning and smoke control areas. Officers needed to quantify what was occurring and how to address issues eg when to take enforcement action.

    v.         Agreed it was possible to promote work to improve air quality now national legal standards were met. For example initiatives such as Ultra-Low Emission Vehicle policies for taxi vehicles in the city. The Council had limited resources so needed to put these in the best place to bring about change in residents’ behaviour.  Verified annual data reports could be published in Cambridge Matters (data had to be verified before it could be published).


The Committee unanimously resolved to endorse the recommendation.


The Executive Councillor approved the recommendation.


Conflicts of Interest Declared by the Executive Councillor (and any Dispensations Granted)

No conflicts of interest were declared by the Executive Councillor.