Agenda item

Purchase of Air Quality Monitoring Equipment

To seek approval for the purchase of air quality monitoring equipment, to make monitoring data available in real time and to develop a wider plan of pollution monitoring.



Councillor Boden presented the purchase of Air Quality Monitoring equipment report.


Councillor Boden reminded members that a motion was brought forward at Full Council to prioritise the purchasing of air quality monitoring equipment in Whittlesey and also to seek to publicise the record of what is being monitored. He stated that the reason behind this is that there has been a very considerable amount of disquiet in Whittlesey at the amount of what is believed to be industrial pollution which has been experienced increasingly over the last few months and it is vital that there is public reassurance that there is no danger to health and that it is identified where these sources of pollution are coming from so action can be taken.


Councillor Boden advised that the pollution being referred to is dust, odour, particulates and noise, so it is quite a wide range of areas being covered. He stated that two options have been given in the thorough report to members about the running costs of a reference monitoring station or of an air quality sensor and in both cases they capture data for nitrogen dioxide and particulates of 10 and 3.5 micrometres.


Councillor Boden suggested that Option B be taken, which is the air quality sensor which would be within existing budgets but that an SO2 sensor also be asked for so that sulphur dioxide can be measured at the same time and additionally he will be requesting, in accordance with Paragraph 2B of the resolution at Full Council, that further consideration be given by officers to how the Council will publicly report both its monitoring readings and any monitoring readings that the Council is able to obtain from third-party monitors.


Members made comments, asked questions and received responses as follows:

·       Councillor Mrs French recognises the problem that exists in Whittlesey but assumes that the equipment will be moved around the rest of the District? She made the point that due to the amount of building that is taking place she is receiving lots of complaints about dust, smells and noises, especially on larger building sites and she thinks the problem will get worse so this equipment is essential. Councillor Boden responded that there is some flexibility with this, especially when going with the cheaper option it is quite possible that more sensors can be purchased as and when necessary and the report does say that there may well be statutory obligations upon the Council at some stage in the very near future for additional monitoring. He stated that industrial pollution is quite different in terms of its nature from the dust, especially to the dust that occurs during building.

·       Councillor Tierney stated that historically Fenland has very good air quality, which is something that the area can be proud of, but information is needed to show if this is changing and in some areas residents are concerned and they could be correct. He stated that he is supportive of the sensors and feels it is good the Council is investing in being able to check the whole of Fenland going forward. Councillor Boden stated that it is also important that the Council does not hide anything and is as public and as open as it can be with the data obtained as there is a duty to reassure the public that everything is being undertaken and they can see for themselves what the measurements are which are taken, not just in Whittlesey but across Fenland, with openness being increasingly important as more sensors are purchased and more information and data is obtained.


Proposed by Councillor Boden, seconded by Councillor Mrs French and AGREED to:

·       approve the purchase of one monitoring sensor unit, to include a SO2 sensor, with associated support services to enable the publication of real-time data with the costs being funded from within existing budgets;

·       approve that the first location of this monitoring equipment being Whittlesey; and

·       officers to give consideration as to the publication of the results of the monitoring undertaken by them and third-party monitoring and to report back to Cabinet on the options available.

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