Technical services and compliance advice for the effective management of air pollution risks from development projects and commercial operations.
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The final version of the new guidance has now been published, and we look at the differences between the new Air Quality Neutral Guidance and its 2014 predecessor, with particular interest in how these changes affect prospects for developers in London.
The GLA's new Air Quality Neutral guidance applies to all developments in London. Previous guidance only applied to major developments, meaning relatively small development applications now have the potential to become more complicated.
For developers, the good news is that only a ‘simple’ assessment is required for those developments with little or no emissions into the air. This includes developments that use efficient boilers, air or ground source heat pumps, and developments that do not exceed the maximum parking standards set out in the London Plan.
The earlier guidance provided benchmarks for two air pollutants: nitrogen oxides (NOx) and PM10 (particulate matter up to 10 µm in diameter, which remains suspended in the air for long periods and is small enough to be breathed in). One of the key differences is that the new guidance provides benchmarks for NOx and PM2.5 (particulate matter up to 2.5 µm in diameter which can pass through the air-blood barrier). Our previous article discusses London's policy on particulate matter.
For building emissions, the new guidance sets a PM2.5 benchmark of zero. This change means that developments with a biomass boiler or on-site plant fuelled by diesel are unlikely to be air quality neutral as there’s a high chance these appliances will emit particles. The caveat to this is a backup plant for emergency and lifesaving power are to be excluded from the development’s emissions.
Where the development does not qualify for a ‘simple’ assessment, a ‘detailed’ assessment is required. For major developments, another difference sees the new guidance require each phase of the development, as well as the development as a whole, to be air quality neutral. The implications of this remain to be seen, but at the very least we know that the assessment itself will be more complex.
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