Agenda item

Air Quality and Health Partnership Action Plan


The Committee considered a report of the Director of Public Health which provided an update on the progress to date made against actions within the Air Quality and Health Partnership Action Plan 2020-24 and the initial proposals for an updated plan for 2024-28. A copy of the report, marked ‘Agenda Item 8’, is filed with these minutes.


Arising from discussions the following points were noted:


(i)           There was close working between Public Health and the Environment and Transport department to tackle the issue of pollution caused by Highways. For example health considerations were being input into the Local Highway Design Guide development such as specifications for Active Travel and green infrastructure.


(ii)         Public health now had input on planning applications and Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plans.


(iii)        The County Council was investing in road schemes with the aim of improving air quality. For example, the Melton Mowbray Distributor Road would contribute to reduced traffic congestion and pollution in Melton town centre. The A511 scheme had also been designed with reducing congestion in mind.


(iv)       The County Council’s own fleet of vehicles was being decarbonised where the appropriate vehicles were available and the business case could be made.


(v)         The County Council had been awarded government funding to install more Electric Vehicle charging points in Leicestershire.


(vi)       The County Council worked in partnership with bus operators regarding the provision of services. The Government’s National Bus Strategy aimed to increase the number of bus journeys undertaken and the County Council was using government money to support existing bus services in Leicestershire. However, bus patronage in Leicestershire, as with the rest of the country, had still not recovered to pre Covid-19 pandemic levels.


(vii)      A member raised concerns that not all bus stops in Leicestershire had their own lay-bys which meant that whilst the buses were picking up passengers, traffic behind was having to wait which contributed to air pollution. It was suggested that when new housing developments were being approved, opportunities were being missed to ensure that bus stops had lay-bys. In response the Director of Environment and Transport acknowledged that ideally all bus stops should have lay-bys but noted that many bus stops in Leicestershire had been in place for many years and the physical road layout would not permit bus lay-bys. The Director also gave reassurances that bus stops in Leicestershire were safety checked and risk assessed by the County Council as an appropriate location for a bus to stop on the carriageway.


(viii)    There were 14 Air Quality Management Areas (AQMAs) in Leicestershire as of 2020. These areas were designated because the local air quality exceeded Government’s national air quality thresholds.


(ix)       In use in Leicestershire were Zephyr air quality monitors which measured gasses and particulate matter. There were two in North West Leicestershire and one in the Harborough area. Whilst the data provided by the Zephyrs was very useful, there were different models of Zephyr in use which meant that it was difficult to join up the data from each and get an overall picture. Purchasing the Zephyrs was also expensive. Government grants were available which could be made more use of in Leicestershire as North West Leicestershire District Council had done in purchasing their Zephyrs.


(x)         The County Council had received a report from EarthSense which provided an overview of pollutants, polluters, hotspot areas in Leicestershire and it also contained recommendations around the next steps for the Partnership’s work. The recommendations re-enforced national messages around active travel and encouraging people to use more environmentally friendly forms of transport.


(xi)       A member raised concerns about the high prevalence of asthma and viral wheeze cases in the under 15s in the South Wigston area of Leicestershire. In response the Director of Public Health provided details of a piece of work which had taken place jointly between Public Health and University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust which looked at whether there were correlations between areas with poor air quality and prevalence of breathing issues. Partnership working was also taking place with Oadby and Wigston Borough Council around data monitoring, and air quality monitoring was taking place around Parkland Primary School. Work was also taking place with an organisation called Modeshift to encourage sustainable and active travel in the area.


(xii)      With regards to pollution caused by cars waiting to pick up children outside schools, campaigns were taking place in Leicestershire to stop the drivers from idling their engines including putting up notices. A pilot scheme had taken place where the streets on which schools were located were closed off at opening and closing times. The pilot had been successful and a further pilot scheme would be taking place. The schemes required the support of school staff to close and open the roads as the County Council was unable to provide resources. It was not always possible to close the roads when the school was located on a main road.


(xiii)    Discussion took place around whether electric vehicles produced more particle pollution in the atmosphere from tyre wear because they were heavier. It was agreed that this would be looked into further after the meeting.




(a)        That the progress to date made against actions within the Air Quality and Health Partnership Action Plan 2020-24 and the initial proposals for an updated plan for 2024-28 be noted;


(b)        That officers be requested to provide a report to a future meeting of the Committee regarding the updated Action Plan for 2024-28.



Supporting documents: