Slough invites comment on its air pollution strategy – but gagging agreement prevents much mention of Heathrow …

Slough residents are being asked for their views on the draft Slough Low Emission Strategy (LES). Slough has high levels of air pollution that affect the health of residents. While several factors contribute to the borough’s air quality, the emissions from road transport vehicles are the most significant source – and much of this traffic is Heathrow-related. The strategy says it “recognises the challenges and opportunities that may arise from the construction of a 3rd runway at Heathrow.” The Slough council draft LES supports its new transport strategy and forms part of the Slough Air Quality Action Plan (AQAP). It lays out an integrated, year on year plan to improve air quality up to 2025, “reducing vehicle emissions by accelerating the uptake of cleaner fuels and technologies.”  The Slough Cabinet member for environment and leisure, said: “The health and wellbeing of our residents and the people who visit and work in Slough is paramount ….”  The strategy says it will “Link and compliment with a potential Ultra-Low Emission Zone at Heathrow.” Slough signed an agreement with Heathrow in mid 2015, to get benefits from a runway, provided they always back the runway. “1.5  Slough Council’s Cabinet commits to publicly support the expansion of Heathrow Airport with immediate effect and until Heathrow is granted the DCO. ” The council does not dare to complain!
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Slough pledge to reduce emissions

27 November 2017 (Slough council website)

Residents are being asked for their views on the draft Slough Low Emission Strategy (LES).

Like many areas of the UK, Slough experiences elevated levels of air pollution which have a marked impact on the health of its residents.

While several factors contribute to the borough’s air quality, the emissions from road transport vehicles are the most significant source.

The council’s draft LES supports its new transport strategy and forms part of the Slough Air Quality Action Plan (AQAP). It lays out an integrated, year on year plan to improve air quality up to 2025, reducing vehicle emissions by accelerating the uptake of cleaner fuels and technologies.

Reducing air pollution from road transport through a low emission strategy is a Slough Labour Party manifesto pledge and improving the borough’s air quality is a key commitment in the council’s Five Year Plan (2017-2021).

The LES builds on significant activity already taking place across the borough, including the development of an extensive cycling infrastructure – including cycle hire facilities, the introduction of electric charge points in the town centre and at various council premises and the availability of electric pool cars and bikes for use by council staff.

Councillor Joginder Bal, cabinet member for environment and leisure, said: “The council has developed a low emission strategy which supports our transport strategy in targeting reductions in vehicle emissions across the borough.

“The health and wellbeing of our residents and the people who visit and work in Slough is paramount and we can make great improvements to our local air quality if we work together towards a shared vision.

“We are committed to making immediate and long lasting improvements to our environment and we’d like residents to help us shape our plans.

“We’d like people to tell us what they think about our strategy, and share their ideas for creating a low emissions future for Slough.”

Download the draft Low Emission Strategy and supporting documents from the Slough Borough Council website at: http://www.slough.gov.uk/pests-pollution-and-food-hygiene/low-emission-strategy-2018-2025.aspx.

Residents are being encouraged to read the strategy, decide whether or not they agree with the priorities and leave their comments at https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/SBC-LES before Monday 8 January 2018.

If you do not have access to the internet, you can write to Environmental Quality Team, Slough Borough Council, St Martins Place, 51, Bath Road, Slough, SL1 3UF. You can drop your letter/note in at MyCouncil if you prefer not to post it to us.

A final draft of the strategy, which will take into consideration the views of residents, is expected to go before the council’s cabinet for approval in February.

The development of Slough’s LES has been part funded through the DEFRA Air Quality Grant Programme and the strategy has been produced with technical support from Low Emission Strategies Ltd.

http://www.slough.gov.uk/news/newsdetail.aspx?id=18271

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Earlier:

Heathrow air pollution worsens as Government presses ahead with third runway plan

By NICHOLAS CECIL  (Evening Standard)
6 April 2017

Air pollution around Heathrow is getting worse as the Government presses ahead with plans for a third runway, it has been revealed.

Nitrogen dioxide levels rose at nine out of 12 monitors in west London within two kilometres (1.24 miles) of the airport between 2015 and 2016, according to provisional data.

At two sites in Hillingdon and Hayes it remained in breach of EU limits. At another, Oxford Avenue in Hillingdon, the average NO2 level spiralled from 32 micrograms per cubic metre of air to almost hitting the legal limit of 40.

Campaigners against a third runway seized on the revelations to cast further doubt on whether the airport can expand within EU air quality rules.

John Stewart, chairman of HACAN, said: “The key fact that Heathrow cannot hide is that air quality around the airport is going in the wrong direction. It is going to be harder than ever for Heathrow to build a third runway and stay within legal air pollution limits.”

A report, published on the Heathrow Airwatch website, admitted that NO2 concentrations increased at many of the monitoring sites between 2015 and 2016 but stressed that this had happened across the South-East so “indicated” the specific rises were not the result of changes in local activities.

It emphasised that the annual average NO2 concentration remained below the EU limit at nine of the 11 monitoring sites outside the airport boundary within 2km of Heathrow.

It added that at the Hillingdon and Hayes monitoring stations, north of the M4, which were above the legal level, airport emissions from all sources contributed 16 per cent and six per cent of total nitrogen oxides respectively.

Another monitor near the northern runway recorded a reading of 47 micrograms per cubic metre, up three on 2015, but the report stressed that the EU limits did not apply as the public do not have access to this area.

The report stressed that the number of aircraft movements made by the newest, cleanest aircraft had increased to more than 20 per cent in 2016 and continued to rise.

The Government has backed another runway at Heathrow, rather than expanding Gatwick.

Heathrow stressed that it took its “environmental obligations seriously” and that new public transport would transform access to Heathrow to cut road traffic emissions.

However, Councillor Ray Puddifoot, leader of Hillingdon council, said: “Local residents are well aware of the air quality issue and that Heathrow are doing insufficient work to mitigate it.”

Heathrow Airwatch is funded by a joint working partnership of Heathrow, Hillingdon, Hounslow, Slough and Spelthorne councils and British Airways.

A DfT spokesman said: “Delivering new runway capacity in the south east is vital to the future of the UK, both in terms of boosting our economy and our position on the world stage.

“The consultation currently underway clearly sets out the benefits and potential impacts of expansion, and we want to hear everyone’s views as part of this process.

“This is accompanied by a world-class package of compensation and mitigation measures to support local communities.

“We take our environmental obligations extremely seriously and have been very clear that the new runway will not get the go-ahead unless air quality requirements can be met.”

https://www.standard.co.uk/news/transport/heathrow-air-pollution-worsens-as-government-presses-ahead-with-third-runway-plan-a3508816.html

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Earlier:

Slough Council secret deal with Heathrow includes gagging order, making it impotent in fighting for a better deal from Heathrow for 3 – 4 years

Residents of Colnbrook, close to Heathrow and due to be badly affected by a 3rd runway, submitted a FoI request to get the details for the secret, but legally binding, deal done between Slough Borough Council and Heathrow airport. The details of the deal are worrying. As well as finding out that Colnbrook, and help for the residents, do not feature in the deal, it has emerged that  Slough Council has accepted what amounts to a self-imposed gagging order, unable to criticise Heathrow for the next 3 to 4 years,until Heathrow is granted a Development Consent Order (DCO).  As well as a boost for investment in the town and improved access from central Slough to the airport, the secret agreement sees Heathrow commit to supporting the Council’s representations to Government to seek compensation for lost business rates, put by the council itself at up to £10 million earlier this year.  In return, however, Cabinet is legally bound to giving public support for the airport until final permission, is granted.  A Development Consent Order is at least three years away, possibly four.  Residents expected that their council would have argued for “world class” compensation and mitigation.  Read the Agreement for yourself in full.   
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This states:  
“1.5 Slough Council’s Cabinet commits to publicly support the expansion of Heathrow Airport with immediate effect and until Heathrow is granted the DCO.”

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