In December last year we learnt that the area around the Broken Cross roundabout was to be declared an Air Quality Management Area (AQMA). This was because the highest nitrogen dioxide readings in Macclesfield had been recorded there, greatly exceeding national air quality objectives. This was announced after the consultations on the Cheshire East (CE) Local Plan were complete. Traffic is the main contributor of nitrogen dioxide to air pollution.
This month Cheshire East announced serious discrepancies in Air Quality Data readings submitted to the UK government, the very day after the Local Plan was signed off by councillors. Many of the falsified readings were close to designated AQMA's.
Following adoption of the Local Plan, plans for large developments (total 350+ houses) on land either side of Chelford Road near Broken Cross have been announced. The main access into Macclesfield for these homes will be onto Chelford Road and directly through the AQMA.
The Air Quality Team at Cheshire East have told us that:
When declaring an AQMA, Local Authorities are required to produce an Action Plan detailing what they are aiming to do in order to reduce pollution in that area.
We asked about the potential impact of hundreds more vehicles passing through this area if current proposals for developments either side of Chelford Road go ahead.
We were told that
"...all developers of major applications are asked to undertake an air quality impact assessment......we will be looking carefully at any applications in this area.
Air Quality is one aspect of planning, and rarely a reason for refusal of planning permission on its own. As such we will be looking to secure mitigation on any successful applications".
We understand that "mitigations" may include electric vehicle charging points in the new houses, or possible changes to the design of Broken Cross roundabout to try and reduce congestion.
The consultants who recently carried out an independent review of air quality data manipulation errors in Cheshire East have made a recommendation that
"A greater emphasis should be placed on developments close to AQMAs ensuring that there are no detrimental effects within the AQMA and that the development area is suitable for the proposed use."
We will publish further details about the Air Quality Action Planning workshop when we know more.