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New Forest District Council cabinet approves air quality policies slammed by opposition as 'not robust enough'

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OPPOSITION councillors have criticised new policies for monitoring the impact of development on air quality in the New Forest as not "robust enough".

Liberal Democrats said stronger measures were needed by New Forest District Council to stop pollution, but Conservatives said they were working hard on "moving forward" on the issue.

The debate was over new policies, agreed at a meeting of the ruling Tory cabinet, requiring developers to take certain levels of action, depending on how big their projects are.

Cllr Malcolm Wade
Cllr Malcolm Wade

A report outlined how smaller schemes will be required to implement at least three measures from a list of suggestions.

Larger ones, producing more traffic, for example, which are "determined to have a significant impact on local air quality" will require bigger mitigation measures.

But Lib Dem Cllr Philip Dowd was concerned at a lack of data on the air quality of different areas in the district.

He said: "Looking at some of the stats from Totton and Fawley – which have some of the worst air quality in the district – I think the report needs to be more robust in terms of mitigation."

Lib Dem leader Cllr Malcolm Wade said he would like to see baseline target figures.

The report was presented by Cllr Diane Andrews, the cabinet member for planning, regeneration and infrastructure.

She said the policy was designed not to make air quality "worse" which, while not being the answer, was a "progression" and a "sign we are moving forward".

Cllr Edward Heron
Cllr Edward Heron

NFDC leader Cllr Edward Heron pointed out the council was doing a host of work with other partners on air quality.

He said it also had air quality management areas, and he "assured" members NFDC would continue to "actively work" on improving pollution levels.

Tory backbencher Cllr Alan Glass said he was "annoyed" people assumed the air quality was "dirty" in Fawley – pointing out Calshot, which had good figures, was in its catchment.

He also said he would like to see a "resurrection" of a task and finish group that worked well with Esso refinery to boost air quality.

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