The quality of the air in South Hams and West Devon is generally very good. However, there are three locations in South Hams where the air quality fails to meet the national and international levels for Nitrogen Dioxide. These areas are categorised as Air Quality Management Areas (AQMAs).
Both Councils have a legal responsibility to produce an air quality action plan and because of this both South Hams District Council and West Devon Borough Council are exploring ways that we can protect and improve air quality with a focus on the Air Quality Management Areas.
To enable them to do this they have produced a Clean Air Strategy, which brings together all of the councils proposed actions for managing air quality.
The strategy was scrutinised by 'Executive' at South Hams and the 'Hub' Committee in West Devon, with an agreement to carry out a public consultation before any decisions are taken about what course of action might be the best way forward.
Now the Councils are about to embark on an initial 8 week consultation on the Clean Air Strategy, looking at the proposals and considering what we can do about it together.
Leader of South Ham District Council, Cllr John Tucker said: "We have been working with Devon County and Highways England as well as our own officers to produce this document. If is a really important piece of work that recognise the role that Planning Authorities can have in off-setting the impact of developments."
Leader of West Devon Borough Council Cllr Philip Sanders added: "This is an opportunity for you to not only tell us what you think of the strategy but also to tell us of any ideas you may have for potential solutions to poor air quality. So please do give us your thoughts and ideas and we will discuss them with our partner agencies after the consultation closes."
The Councils' recognise that national policy is promoting ultralow emission vehicles and in light of this the strategy also seeks to support the infrastructure that is required to make this possible, such as electric charging points for cars.
It also recognises the benefits that cycling and walking can have both on air quality and on the health of residents and as a result the councils will also be exploring ways to improve cycling and pedestrian networks between villages, towns and communities.
The consultation starts on the 20 April and runs to the 20 June. All of the comments and ideas will be explored and discussed before a final Air Quality Strategy is presented to both Councils later in the year.
The air quality team are happy to discuss the options available, and hope to attend Town and Parish Councils in the air quality management areas.