London Developments to be Air Quality Neutral

08-08-2013

Draft Supplementary Planning Guidance (SPG) issued for consultation by the Mayor of London in July 2013 includes a section on assessing new developments for being ‘air quality neutral’ (click here for access).  This is part of the Draft SPG on Sustainable Design and Construction that is designed to explain how policies in the London Plan should be carried through to action.  Energy use and supply form important parts of the SPG, along with flood protection and a wide range of other topic areas, including air quality.

The air quality section sets out when assessments will be required and what should be assessed.  This includes the assessment of construction impacts, which has not been the norm for assessments carried out by Air Quality Consultants Ltd, except for formal Environmental Impact Assessments of larger projects.

The guidance on ‘air quality neutral’ is entirely new.   The London Plan and the Mayor’s Air Quality Strategy had already set out the principal that developments should be at least ‘air quality neutral’, but no guidance had been provided on how to demonstrate or achieve this.  Air Quality Consultants Ltd, in conjunction with Dr Claire Holman of Environ, were commissioned by the Greater London Authority to help develop a scheme for demonstrating whether a new development is ‘air quality neutral’.  The report (click here for access), provides benchmarks against which calculated emissions from buildings and transport can be compared.  Where a scheme does not meet the ‘air quality neutral’ benchmarks, after mitigation has been applied, the developer will be required to off-set the emissions off-site.  Separate benchmarks are provided for building emissions and transport emissions and they cover both nitrogen oxides (NOx) and PM10.

Where off-setting is required, this should be in the vicinity of the development.  Measures could include: green walls and screens to absorb pollutants, and retrofitting abatement on vehicles and/or flues.

The Draft SPG also proposes that gas boilers should meet an ultra-low NOx standard (<40 mgNOx/kWh) and proposes emissions standards for CHP and biomass plant.

The consultation runs until 21 October 2013.