Venue: Lavery Room - City Hall
Contact: Mrs Sara Steele, Democratic Services Officer 90320202 x6301
Apologies for inability to attend were recorded on behalf of Councillors McAteer and Garrett.
Declarations of Interest
No declarations were reported.
The Committee considered the undernoted report and with the aid of PowerPoint the Environmental Protection Manager provided a brief overview of the Local Air Quality Management regime, the Belfast City Air Quality Action Plan 2021-2026 and the context of the work undertaken to reach this stage in the development of the draft detailed assessment atmospheric dispersion model.
“1.0 Purpose of Report or Summary of main Issues
1.1 The Committee will be aware that at its meeting of 8th October 2019 and upon consideration of agenda item 3b, ‘Local Air Quality Management Update for Belfast’, the Committee agreed a proposal that the Council would agree to look at undertaking a detailed assessment and, additionally, to measure particulate matter (PM2.5). The Committee additionally agreed to bring back a further report on how to meet the undertaking for a detailed assessment, and to include the measurement of PM2.5. In accordance with the provisions of the government’s local air quality management (LAQM) technical guidance, a detailed assessment is normally required whenever an Updating and Screening Assessment has indicated that there is a risk of an air quality objective not being achieved. It should be noted that fine particulate matter (PM2.5) is not in presently in regulation (Air Quality Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2003)) for the purposes of the local air quality management but the Council has nevertheless elected to proactively include PM2.5 within the scope of the detailed assessment.
1.2 Subsequent reports were provided to the Committee as to how such a detailed review and assessment might be delivered for the city and on the basis of these reports, a competitive European Tender exercise was undertaken by the Council in September 2020 in order to appoint an appropriately experienced environmental consultancy to deliver the detailed assessment project.
1.3 Aecom consultants were subsequently appointed by the Council in early 2021 to deliver the detailed assessment project over an approximate 2-year period with a final project report to be completed by March 2023 including the findings to be presented to the People and Communities Committee within these timescales. It may be helpful to consider scheduling party briefings on this subject in advance of the final report being tabled at committee. The Aecom detailed assessment has considered nitrogen dioxide (NO2), particulate matter (PM10) and fine particulate matter (PM2.5) for the city and has been undertaken in accordance with the provisions of Part III of the Environment (Northern Ireland) Order 2002 and of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) Local Air Quality Management Technical Guidance (LAQM.TG22), published in August 2022.
1.4 In order to enable the Committee to consider the outworkings of the detailed assessment for nitrogen dioxide (NO2), particulate matter (PM10) and fine particular matter (PM2,5) and to provide commentary on the emergent findings, Aecom consultants are scheduled to provide a presentation ... view the full minutes text for item 3.
Presentation - AECOM
The Chairperson welcomed to the meeting Mr. A. Thorpe, representing AECOM, to the meeting.
Mr. Thorpe commenced by thanking the Committee for the opportunity to present on the findings of the draft AECOM report on the detailed assessment project which had been ongoing now for over 2 years.
The representative, with the aid of PowerPoint, presented the Members with a detailed update presentation on key findings of the draft report and draft atmospheric dispersion modelling. He advised that the draft findings had been compiled using the following 4 principal project components:
1. Additional ambient monitoring for nitrogen dioxide (NO2), particulate matter (PM10) and fine particulate matter (PM2.5);
2. Development of an emissions inventory for the Belfast City Council area;
3. Detailed atmospheric dispersion modelling to map concentrations of NO2, PM10 and PM2.5 spatially for the Belfast City Council area for a 2019 base year and a forward projection year of 2028; and
4. Analysis and reporting of the atmospheric dispersion modelling data for the city to identify geographic areas of exceedance of national and European health-based ambient air quality standards and of WHO air quality guideline values.
Mr. Thorpe reiterated that, at this stage, the findings were still in draft form as the final detailed assessment atmospheric dispersion modelling report and the accompanying detailed assessment summary report would contain a series of project conclusions and, where necessary, recommendations for further ambient air improvements across the city.
During discussion, the AECOM representative undertook to include a graphic for WHO standards within the final report. He also addressed queries in relation to the measuring of PM2.5 and whether there were specific times of the year when spikes in air pollution were more evident. The representative agreed to investigate this further and to report back.
The Environmental Protection Manager advised the Members that a specific report on monitoring would be provided as a component of the detailed assessment project.
Discussion also ensued regarding the rationale used to determine the location of the additional monitoring stations, the high levels of pollution around the A12 Westlink and the declining levels in pollution during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Environmental Protection Manager advised that the Council had now taken over operation of the monitoring stations that had been used for the assessment project and, therefore, in due course, the Council could consider their relocation to different areas of the city to capture alternative data.
The Director of City Services advised that, in advance of the final report being submitted to the People and Communities Committee and given the complexity of the work associated with the draft detailed assessment atmospheric dispersion model, officers would be happy to discuss this directly with a Member or to arrange a Party Briefing should they feel that it would be beneficial to contact her if this was required.
The Chairperson thanked Mr. Thorpe for his comprehensive presentation, and he left the meeting.
The Committee noted ... view the full minutes text for item 5.