Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Ince Park Air Quality Forum meets at Castle Park

It was March 2012 when the Ince Park Air Quality forum last met.  This forum came about through, amongst other routes, pressure that Cllrs Lynn Riley, Les Ford and I applied to Peel Holdings earlier this year.  Peel's Ince facility will process various types of waste - some of which will be by incineration.  We took the view that the northern part of Cheshire had many sources of potential pollution and the time had come for the community to seek reassurance that the local environment could stand yet more emissions to atmosphere.

In March 2012 the forum met and agreed that CWaC officers should make enquiries and with the consent of the forum should appoint an independent expert to advise the forum and in particular to devise an appropriate air monitoring regime for the our part of the world.

It has taken some 6 months for the officers to get to the stage where Professor Duncan Laxen of Air Quality Consultants Limited has been appointed to advise the forum.

Tonight was our first meeting with him - where he laid out his impressive credentials - which included advising the EU and the UK government on air quality and asked us to tell him what we wanted to see emerge.

It was pleasing to see that all of us around the table were in broad agreement.  We want to see monitoring starting as soon as possible so that baseline data can be obtained before both the incinerator at Weston is commissioned and Peel's facilities at Ince are built and become operational.  Where and how the monitoring is done and the determinands that will be tested for we will leave to the expert to advise us.  I raised the issue that I wanted the monitoring to go further and to consider all aspects of the environment - in other words encompassing land and water as well as air - after all, I argued, pollutants in the air have to fall out somewhere.  I also requested that we should ask our local GPs for input into the forum too.

Peel have agreed to fund the work of the forum the monitoring and the analysis reasonably.  It is too early to say what this will cost and what the commitments will be.  Enquiries seem to confirm that we will be the first community in the country to demand this comprehensive level of environmental monitoring.  It is interesting to learn that we are being more demanding of Peel and what they propose for Ince than our near neighbours in Halton have been with regard to the Weston incinerator.

The Ince forum is made up of local councillors and residents joined by representatives from Peel, the Health Protection Agency, CWaC's Environmental Health Department and the Environment Agency. We all accept we don't have the monopoly on wisdom and will therefore welcome anyone's ideas and suggestions when it comes to deciding what, how, why and when, when it comes to the monitoring and reporting to the community.  The whole point of this forum is to ensure open and transparent reporting of environmental information to the community independently, truthfully and faithfully and free from spin whether from operators or regulators.

By the way - we are very fortunate with some of our councillors and residents on the forum.  We have a Professor, several scientists, a regulator and an environmental and regulatory lawyer!  Anyway - if you want us to take account of anything you think we may have missed - let me know!