David Rees AM urges the people of Aberavon to have their say on air and noise pollution

This week, the Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Rural Affairs, Lesley Griffiths has opened a public consultation on how Wales can do better in the management of air and noise pollution and Aberavon AM, David Rees, is urging the residents of Port Talbot, and Aberavon to have their say on air and noise pollution.

It is regularly reported that the air quality in Port Talbot is poor and in May 2016 the World Health Organisation listed Port Talbot as the area in the UK that had the highest levels of particulate matter, and we must look at ways in which we can improve the air quality of our town. Our ability to help create further change in many areas restricted by the lack of well-positioned pollution monitoring, for example, outside schools.

Over the next twelve weeks the Welsh Government is seeking views on a number of specific proposals developed in discussion with air quality and noise experts in Local Authorities, Public Health Wales and Natural Resources Wales. They focus primarily on improving the local air quality management (LAQM) regime.

https://consultations.gov.wales/consultations/air-quality-and-noise-management-wales

This long-standing UK-wide system requires Local Authorities to monitor air quality and implement local air quality action plans accordingly and we have air quality management areas set up in Port Talbot and Swansea. The current LAQM regime has been successful in identifying a large number of pollution hotspots, but has had limited success in eradicating them.

The proposals in the consultation aim to streamline processes and develop a robust procedure for following up overdue progress reports and action plans.

The consultation exercise will also ask the important open question of what else we should be doing to tackle airborne pollution.

The Cabinet Secretary said:

“Reducing air and noise pollution is hugely important if we are to improve people’s overall health and quality of life. The purpose of this consultation is to hear from as many people as possible on how we can best achieve this.

“For the next 12 weeks we will be in listening mode. I encourage people from all over Wales to have their say because this is an issue that affects us all.”

The Cabinet Secretary also emphasised that following the vote to leave the European Union the Welsh Government will seek to replicate and strengthen legislation implemented by the European Union aimed at improving air quality:

“We didn’t sign up to these EU air quality regulations reluctantly. We did it for a reason – because they aim to have a positive effect on public health. As we prepare to leave the European Union we will be looking at how these important regulations can be replicated and where possible, adapted and strengthened to meet specific Welsh needs.”

David Rees AM added:

“People of Port Talbot experience poor air quality due to the variety of pollutants emanating from our industries and vehicles travelling through our town.  It is important that the people of Aberavon have the opportunity to have their say on ways to reduce noise and, in particular, air pollution that we regularly experience and this consultation will allow residents to have their say on what the Welsh Government should be doing to tackle airborne pollution and improve the quality of life for everyone. We also need to consider the regulations for the location of monitoring stations so that we can identify levels of pollution at specific points across our communities and in particular at sites that have high numbers of children present e.g. near schools.”

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