Halton ‘meets legal obligations’ for air quality

Public Health England issues statement aimed at allaying ‘concern’ over impacts of nearby Runcorn incinerator on air quality

Air quality in Halton close to the large-scale Runcorn waste incinerator meets legal obligations and is “better than most large cities”, according to Public Health England (PHE).

Halton council and PHE released a joint statement this week (February 24) in a bid to ease local residents’ concerns about the impact of the incinerator on air quality in the Merseyside borough.

PHE and Halton council said Viridor's energy-from-waste plant in Runcorn meets air quality limits

PHE and Halton council said Viridor’s energy-from-waste plant in Runcorn meets air quality limits

Waste management firm Viridor’s incinerator facility in Runcorn began processing waste into energy last year, but campaign groups Breathe Clean Air Group and Halton Action Group Against the Incinerator have been critical of emissions from the plant as well as from traffic entering and leaving the site.

A petition for the council to monitor particulate matter PM2.5 “and other toxins” from the facility has at the time of writing attracted more than 5,500 signatures.

PHE confirmed earlier this month that it plans to publish a study this year looking at the possible health impacts from waste incinerator emissions (see story).

Local campaigners have also criticised the borough council’s decision to lift restrictions on the amount of traffic entering the site in March 2014 due to fears over air pollution (see story).

And, in their statement this week, Halton’s director of public health, Eileen O’Meara, and Dr Alex Stewart, consultant in public health for Public Health England, said they understood that air quality “is currently a topic of public interest and concern to some Halton residents”.

However, they said that while the issue was “a complex science that is not easy to understand”, air quality monitoring in the are indicated that “air in Halton is similar to that in neighbouring authorities and better than most large cities”.

Highlighting the latest air quality study in the area and data from 2013, they said the council had used a “variety of air monitors, including diffusion tubes and continuous recording, for many years”.

They said: “Residents of Halton have experienced a significant improvement in air quality from the days when the chemical industry was at its height in Widnes and Runcorn.”

The statement added: “Defra, the government department responsible for air monitoring, have confirmed that Halton meets its legal obligations in this respect. Halton council continuously monitors air quality in the borough — this is a legal requirement under Part IV of the Environment Act 1995 Local Air Quality Management.”


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