Green gap green lungsThe Environmental Health Officer has repeated her objection to Grainger’s application to build on the Green Gap. That is because Grainger has not undertaken the required air quality tests.

This second objection is timely as SODC is currently consulting on its Low Emissions Strategy (LES). At the heart of this is, of course, Air Quality. Whilst the strategy is focussed on specific air quality management areas (AQMA’s), the Strategy has broader concerns. SODC states:

“In addition there are some areas, such as Didcot and Thame, which have streets that are close to the air quality limit values. With new housing, economic growth and potential traffic growth in these areas there is the danger that further breaches of the air quality limit values may occur. Therefore this Low Emission Strategy is needed to mitigate existing problems and help prevent further problems from arising.”

SODC’s LES is clear about the importance of the issue.

“Air pollution is estimated to be responsible for 52,500 premature deaths in the UK each year. Climate change is having adverse economic effects due to increases in temperature and extreme weather events such as flooding impacting on infrastructure, agriculture and local habitats. The council is committed to reducing both air pollution and carbon emissions to ensure a high quality and healthy environment for the residents of South Oxfordshire.”

We would agree with the EHO and suggest that the Applicant is currently in clear breach of local policies G2 and EP1. We would go further and suggest that as it stands the Applicant fails at least two of the three hurdles for sustainable development (social and environmental). And as such it would be impossible to envisage any “in principle” planning approvals being forthcoming.

Like any half decent strategy, the LES identifies the problems and offers solutions. It identifies “five core themes”, one of which is “low emissions planning”

We therefore hope that SODC will demonstrate its commitment to its own policies, its own strategies and its own residents by requiring the Applicant to under take the relevant survey and studies now.

Finally, we would also hope that SODC remembers that they themselves described this site to central Government as the “lungs breathing air into Didcot” in the Garden Town pitch. Let’s hope the air is fresh not foul.

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