Local Air Quality Management
The Environmental Protection and Housing Team routinely assesses outdoor air quality in Rhondda Cynon Taf in regards to seven pollutants of concern, identified in the National Air Quality Strategy. These seven pollutants are important because they are known to cause adverse health effects and there levels may be influenced by local actions. Regulations have set Air Quality Objectives for these seven pollutants: -
- Particulate Matter (PM10)
- Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2)
- Sulphur Dioxide (SO2)
- Carbon Monoxide (CO)
- Lead (Pb)
- Benzene (C6H6)
- 1,3 Butadiene (C4H6)
The monitoring of air quality in Rhondda Cynon Taf has been undertaken since the 1990’s and each year the Council publishes a report on local air quality. These reports provide information on the statutory process, up to date local monitoring data and the analysis of local air quality. Most recently the Council has published the 2019 Progress Report.
2019 Progress Report
The 2019 Progress Report contains an assessment of recent monitoring data for Nitrogen Dioxide and Fine Particulate Matter as well as a review of newly consented developments, new and ongoing areas of interest and relevant Council policies. The 2019 Progress Report can be viewed via the link on this webpage.
The vast majority of Rhondda Cynon Taf experiences good air quality which is likely to remain so into the future, and potentially even improve. Within Rhondda Cynon Taf only some small areas associated with busy urban road junctions, the regional road network or specific local sources are likely to be vulnerable to poor air quality. Many of these areas, linked to elevated levels of Nitrogen Dioxide, have already been declared Air Quality Management Areas. In contrast to most locations, the air quality within some of these Air Quality Management Areas may not improve as quickly as elsewhere or may even get worse. Currently Rhondda Cynon Taf has sixteen Air Quality Management Areas for breaches of Air Quality Objectives for Nitrogen Dioxide.
As improvements to local air quality take effect, areas that were once potentially in breach of the relevant Air Quality Objective may now observe sustained compliance. The 2019 Progress Report identifies an area of the Broadway Air Quality Management Area, between the Broadway Gyratory and Park St, which due to sustained improvement in measured local air quality, is now compliant with the Air Quality Objectives for Nitrogen Dioxide and is no longer required to be designated within the Broadway Air Quality Management Area. To acknowledge this improvement and assist continued focussed action at Broadway, the 2019 Progress Report proposes that the Broadway Air Quality Management Area should be modified to reduce its designated area to Broadway only.
At present it is believed that the levels of Particulate Matter at Glyncoch are compliant with the relevant Air Quality Objectives for Particulate Matter. Natural changes to locally prevailing weather and future changes at Craig Yr Hesg Quarry, means it is difficult to know if future compliance will continue. As such the Local Authority will continue to robustly monitor Fine Particulate Matter levels at Glyncoch.
The 2019 Progress Report also highlights the need for national, regional and local actions to improve poor air quality. To further this aspiration, the Council has adopted Air Quality Action Plans for each of its Air Quality Management Areas. These Air Quality Action Plans, collated within the 2019 Progress Report, contain a range of cost effective and beneficial actions that may help to improve local air quality and work towards achieving compliance to the relevant Air Quality Objectives throughout Rhondda Cynon Taf.
Air Quality Managements Areas
Air Quality Management Areas are declared by the Council via Order under Section 83(1) of the Environment Act 1995. In response to breaches of the Air Quality Objectives for Nitrogen Dioxide, there are currently sixteen Air Quality Management Areas within Rhondda Cynon Taf:-
- Aberdare Town Centre Air Quality Management Area
- Broadway Air Quality Management Area
- Church Village Air Quality Management Area
- Cilfynydd Air Quality Management Area
- Cymmer Air Quality Management Area
- Ferndale Air Quality Management Area
- Llanharan Air Quality Management Area
- Llwynypia Air Quality Management Area
- Mountain Ash Town Centre Air Quality Management Area
- Mwyndy Air Quality Management Area
- Nantgarw Air Quality Management Area
- Nightingales Bush Air Quality Management Area
- Pontypridd Town Centre Air Quality Management Area
- Tonyrefail Air Quality Management Area
- Treforest Air Quality Management Area
- Tylorstown Air Quality Management Area
The Council has produced individual Air Quality Action Plans, for each Air Quality Management Area, which set out actions which may improve air quality within them and further the Councils goal to achieve compliance with the relevant Air Quality Objective throughout Rhondda Cynon Taf.
In implementing the adopted Air Quality Action Plans it is also possible that greater benefits will also be realised, for instance furthering the Councils duties in relation to active travel. The actions detailed within the adopted Air Quality Action Plans include a broad range of aspirations and mechanisms to affect local air quality. Some of the actions are specific to a particular Air Quality Management Areas, where others may provide borough wide improvement. The actions are broadly outlined below:
- Exploring potential locally targeted changes to existing traffic management to reduce or displace traffic congestion at high risk locations.
- Exploring potential locally targeted increased traffic waiting and parking restrictions or the availability of alternative provisions and their enforcement at specific areas to improve traffic flow and reduce congestion.
- Possible local rearrangement of a bus stop to reduce the impact of bus waiting on local traffic congestion.
- Advocating the reduction in permitted speed along part of the A470.
- Supporting the effective implementation of the South East Wales Metro and electrification of the South Wales Central Valley Line.
- Encouraging borough wide behavioural change by the use of existing resources and policy mechanisms to influence greater uptake of public transport, car sharing and efficient journey planning.
Air Quality Actions
The Council has utilised its own resources as well as some Welsh Government funding to undertake, with the assistance of its partners, several actions identified within the adopted Air Quality Action Plans, including: -
- Improvements to the infrastructure and traffic management system of the road traffic lights at the junction of Cardiff St and Station St and Cross St, Aberdare to help reduce unnecessary waiting times along Cardiff St.
- Improvements to the traffic management system of the traffic lights at the junction of Oxford St and Commercial St, Mountain Ash to help reduce unnecessary waiting times along Oxford St.
- Installing and repairing street lighting on routes near Pontypridd High School to encourage walking and cycling.
- Engaging with Pontypridd High School and Ferndale High School to consider pilot projects which could increase active travel.
- Publishing a number of leaflets containing public transport and active travel information for the Pontypridd, Porth and Ferndale Areas.
- Supporting the reduction in the speed limit along part of the A470 between Upper Boat and Pontypridd and continuing to advocate its extension to Cilfynydd
- Enabling significant expansion and improvement to ‘park and ride’ facilities at a number of locations associated with local railway routes.
- Working collaboratively with its partners, including Cwm Taf Local Health Board, to identify local communities that would most benefit from actions to improve local air quality
As projects are delivered, impacts will be examined within future air quality reports. In addition, the Council will continue to work with its partners to fund and implement other actions within its Air Quality Action Plans as and when possible.
Air Quality Monitoring
The Council maintains a large network of monitoring locations throughout Rhondda Cynon Taf, so as to better understand local air quality and the actions that can effect it. These results are combined with data collected by other local authorities in Wales and, together with comments on national air quality (including the current pollution status across Wales), may be viewed on the Air Quality In Wales website.
Tel: 01443 425001
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