Campaigners plea to ensure building new Calderdale homes will not impact air quality

Building new homes in some parts of Calderdale will affect the quality of air residents will breathe, say campaigners.

By John Greenwood - Local Democracy Reporter
Sunday, 16th January 2022, 11:00 am
Hundreds of houses are proposed on the green fields in Greetland
Hundreds of houses are proposed on the green fields in Greetland

Reliance on modelling the future rather than what data is saying now concerned many of those taking part in the last hearing session about Calderdale Council’s draft Local Plan.

The session heard the council used Government data to show air quality would improve in areas where thousands of new homes might be built, as technology, including electric vehicles, would be less polluting.

But representatives of local residents groups and ward councillors were not convinced.

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Coun Jacob Cook (Con, Greetland and Stainland) said the only sure way to protect West Vale was to remove allocated sites from the plan.

He told Planning Inspector Katie Child, who will determine whether or not the plan is sound, he could not see significant mitigation being possible to deal with issues which might arise.

The council says proposals will need planning permission, on larger schemes air quality assessments will play a part and mitigations need to be made by developers.

But Coun Cook said: “The only way to mitigate is to remove those sites – once it gets the green light in the Local Plan, the development will happen.”

Lyndsey Ashton, representing Greetland residents, described modelling as “extremely alarming” with homes and a school right next to the roadside.

“They are breathing in air that is as concentrated as it is on the road.

“Air pollution is set on a collision course for disaster.

“On balance air pollution is on a historic upward trend – far outweighing the benefits of building on Saddleworth Road and it should not be ignored.

“All we are asking for is to be healthy and safe,” she said.

Coun Paul Bellenger (Lib Dem, Greetland and Stainland) worried particulate matter – for example from the tyres of vehicles – was not measured.

He also said as allowable density of numbers of homes per site seemed to increasing this should allow removal of sensitive places from the plan, keeping numbers up at more suitable sites.

Coun Steven Leigh (Con, Ryburn), said modelling would not convince the public.

“We’re trying to justify the unjustifiable.

“For the ordinary people of Calderdale these statements make no sense and can’t instil in the population any confidence this Local Plan is being put together in a proper and responsible manner,” he said.

Stuart Bennett, of WSP, for the council, said modelling was based on Government data and showed roadside nitrogen oxide pollution would fall by 50 per cent over the life of the Local Plan to 2032.

Compliance with legal levels would be reached by the end of 2022, the council says.

But Coun Leigh said: “There are many issues preventing people using electric vehicles because of the infrastructure required and combustion engines will still be being produced to 2030.”

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