Minutes Published: Meeting of the Stone Parish Neighbourhood Plan Directors held on Thursday 25th January 2018

Minutes of the Stone Parish Neighbourhood Plan Directors Meeting held on Thursday 25 January 2018, 7pm at the Boardroom, Stone Pavilion, Hayes Road, Stone, Kent DA9 9DS

DIRECTORS PRESENT:  P Winchester (Chairman); D Bartlett; J Burrell; M Mitchell; J Thomas and V Winchester

IN ATTENDANCE:  Andrew Simpson (Assistant Policy Planner, DBC)


55/01/18NP:   APOLOGIES

Apologies for absence were received from C Olney, S Thredgle and V Winchester.


No declarations of interest were received.


Minutes for Thursday 16 November 2017 were approved as presented with minutes for Thursday 21 December 2017 being deferred as Director’s had not been able to view them.


There were no matters arising from the minutes of the previous meeting that would not be addressed elsewhere on the agenda.


To receive update in respect of Technical Support Services

Technical support for viability assessments has been approved by Locality and will commence imminently.  This work will be undertaken by AECOM consultants who will initially provide a scope of works, with the activity running for around 3-4 months.

To receive details regarding tree-planting to improve poor air quality

Particulate Matter has shown to be more damaging than nitrogen oxide, with the main source being diesel vehicles. Concern arises that if our recent monitoring activity, which showed we have problems at two points in Stone which exceed limits, could mean the problem is worse than thought if Particulate Matter is also considered.

There are currently conflicting views and evidence regarding the benefits of tree planting to help disperse pollutants.

The Chairman provided the following information to Directors:

Air pollution is becoming an increasingly high-profile issue nationally.  It was reported in the “i” newspaper on Saturday 20th January that Michael Gove, the Environment Secretary, has been summoned to the European Commission in Brussels “to explain why the UK still breaches legal air-pollution limits.”  There are frequent articles in the British press highlighting this problem.  Following the air quality consultation carried out on our behalf by AECOM last summer, it was confirmed that two of the three sites that were monitored (86, London Road on the corner of Invicta Road and 295, London Road (Horn’s Cross) are in excess of the acceptable health limit in respect of nitrogen dioxide pollution.

On this basis it is clearly incumbent on us to incorporate appropriate policies in the NDP that will tackle this serious problem.  The challenge we face is to pick our way through the wealth of technical data that we have, try to resolve the conflicting messages we have received from the “experts” and agree realistic and sensible policies that will make a positive difference to the health prospects of those who live, attend school or work in Stone.

There seems to be some confusion about which type of pollution we need to concern ourselves with locally. Michele Hackman from AECOM indicated that the pollution we need to deal with is NO2 – nitrogen dioxide which results from vehicle exhausts emitting nitrogen monoxide which oxidises in the atmosphere.  This vehicle emission pollution then has an adverse effect in a 200 meter “corridor” adjacent to the offending highway.  Certainly, AECOM’s air quality monitoring diffusion tubes were focusing exclusively on the presence of NO2.  Michele inferred that particulate matter (one of the other serious air pollutants) is not much of an issue for us.  However, in an article in the “i” newspaper dated Tuesday 16th January, Dr Zongbo Shi, a senior lecturer in atmospheric biogeochemistry at the University of Birmingham, reported that particulate matter (PM2.5) has even more serious harmful health effects than NO2 and one of the main sources of PM2.5 is diesel vehicles (and the suspension of all road vehicles and wear of tyres and road surfaces).

If this is true, then our local air quality problem could be much worse than AECOM’s report suggested.  This needs to be clarified as soon as time allows but, whatever this reveals, we know this is an issue that we must tackle through the NDP.   The big question for us is HOW?

The following is a list of possible ways to deal with this and, presumably, the best solution will be a balanced combination of these:

Planting trees:

Is this effective or not?  We have received very conflicting information on this.  On the assumption that they are effective or, at least, would make some positive difference, then where would they need to be, which species and how many would be needed?  Although Michele Hackman included the use of trees as a mitigating action, it was bottom of her list and she seemed quite dismissive of their benefit.  I understand from Mark Aplin that Richard Maggs was also fairly dismissive of the value of trees to combat air pollution.  However, although he said trees are “not the solution” because they are generally unable to absorb pollution at a sufficient rate, he did acknowledge that tree barriers can aid dispersal.  On the other hand, the Woodland Trust provide plenty of information on the effectiveness of tree-planting, even giving details of which tree species are the best anti-pollutant agents.  Among many things they highlight a BBC TV programme anchored by Michael Mosley and Gabriel Weston which demonstrated that a row of silver birch trees had a significant effect on reducing the air pollution to a row of terraced houses situated on a busy A road in Lancaster.  One thing seems to be apparent – for trees to be effective, they need to be situated in close proximity to the polluting source.  It has little or no benefit to plant a large area of trees some distance away.  The Woodland Trust also cite several local authorities which incorporated a tree-planting policy into their Supplementary Planning Document e.g. Sefton Metropolitan Borough Council and Waltham Forest both introduced a requirement for three trees to be planted per new dwelling and two trees per new 100 square meters of commercial floorspace, such trees to be planted on site or nearby.  There is nothing to say that this policy necessarily relates to air pollution concerns, but it highlights a view that trees are beneficial to a community, especially when new developments are taking place.  Certainly, the Woodland Trust (not surprisingly) support the belief that trees make a positive contribution to a community in terms of aesthetics, mental health, the feel-good factor and for their support of local wildlife, in addition to countering pollution.

Controlling or restricting traffic flows:

As traffic is the main source of our air pollution, whatever we can do (if at all) to limit the number of vehicles moving through the parish will help to improve air quality.  Another factor in this respect is the speed of traffic.  According to a presentation by Dr Richard Maggs attended by Mark Aplin, the least polluting speed for traffic is a steady 30-40 mph.  High rates of pollution are caused by slow-moving (crawling) traffic at circa 10 mph and stop/start traffic.  I think you could add to this high polluting list high-speed and uphill traffic.

Encouraging, facilitating and rewarding the use of electric and hybrid vehicles:

For private and commercial users.  Currently electric vehicles represent a tiny percentage of overall traffic and their fairly limited range means they are restricted to “local” travel.  However, technology is improving all the time and it is in the human interest to develop electric vehicles with a far greater range.  It is reasonable, I think, to plan on this basis.  Therefore, an electric vehicle charging point in every new residence could be considered a non-negotiable requirement.  Equally, Stone Parish should be adequately equipped with charging points in “public” places e.g. the Pavilion car park, certainly the new Horn’s Cross development if it goes ahead, the two proposed new schools, the new rugby club.  In public parking areas there could be a reduced parking charge for electric/hybrid vehicles.  We could consider some form of levy on bus companies that use non-hybrid buses on routes through Stone Parish.

Encourage the creation of a car pooling scheme in new developments in excess of? residences:

There are doubts about the practicalities of this but, if it could work using electric/hybrids, then it would reduce the number of vehicles on the road and it would have no pollution effect at all. In view of this it would seem worthwhile to investigate existing schemes to find out if they are successful.

“A Welcome Pack available to all new residents:

An online and printed version, containing information and incentives to encourage the use of sustainable transport modes.” Michele Hackman, AECOM.

Create a connecting network of cycle paths with adequate secure cycle storage at strategic places:

The cycle and foot path survey is currently being carried out.  This should provide us with a good blueprint from which to incorporate a policy in the NDP.

All new/replacement gas-fired boilers in the Parish to comply to the minimum standard of <40mgNOx/kWh.  This might already be in place?

Ban wood-burning stoves as these emit high levels of PM.  This could be controversial as this choice of heating may have been chosen due to limited income and could therefore impact people in need.

60/01/18NP:  PROCEDURE

To determine date for next meeting

The next meeting was arranged for Thursday 1 March at 4:30pm.


The Chairman thanked those present for their attendance before closing the meeting.



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