Expert Planning Objection – London
Southwest Environmental Limited (Environmental Consultants) were contacted by a residents group, who were trying to contest an application for a school in their neighbourhood. The residents group were concerned about the extra traffic generated by the proposed development and also as to whether the site was indeed suite for the intended use.
An expert planning objection was prepared by Southwest Environmental we were requested that we limit our comments to those relating to air quality, although we would have happily commented on daylighting, traffic, or noise in this instance.
The proposed school was situated on a busy junction, which has been subject to monitoring, for nitrogen dioxide. Nitrogen dioxide has been shown to have chronic effects on the health of adults and children alike, although at present the is a great deal of uncertainty regarding safe exposure levels.
To that end the European Union has set targets of 40ugm3 as an annual mean, and the site exceeds these values. There are have been various studies that point to unsatisfactory air quality in the area, yet reports submitted in support of planning appear to show that this is not the case thus indicating a discrepancy.
In 2014 The European Commission launched legal proceedings against the UK for failing to deal with air pollution. The EU reasoning behind case this was that levels of nitrogen dioxide, mainly from diesel engines, are “excessive” in many British cities. The Commission noted in its written statement at the time that nitrogen dioxide gas can lead to major respiratory illnesses and premature deaths.
It is important to note that there is no safe level set for exposure to nitrogen dioxide. Nitrogen dioxide is converted to nitric acid in the lungs, and this can exacerbate illnesses such as asthma, and other respiratory conditions. Studies note the clear “associations between NO2 and respiratory problems among children”.