Campaigners questioned why most of the homes in Calderdale’s draft Local Plan will put housing in areas which already have the worst air quality in the borough.
As one example, re-routing heavy goods vehicles through an existing air quality management area – designated because air quality is already poor – in Brighouse must have implications when considering planning, Planning Inspector Katie Child, who will judge whether or not it is sound, heard at the final Local Plan inquiry session hearing.
Assumptions made in the plan showing lower pollution levels – a 50 per cent over its lifespan to 2032 – in the future than current data demonstrates concerned campaigners who doubted aspects including cleaner, electric, cars in the years to come would bring significant mitigation to problems.
The hearing was considering impact on air quality of homes and business development in four areas, Clifton, Brighouse, Ainley Top and West Vale.
Clifton resident Jason Carlton said he had been told HGVs would be re-routed through an industrial estate to ease congestion but vehicles would still be stopping and starting, increasing pollution.
“Whichever way you go, you are re-routing traffic to Air Quality Management Areas,” he said.
Mr Carlton said if he understood Stuart Bennett, of WSP, for the council, there were several assumptions used to make predictions, including cleaner vehicles, that there would be highway interventions and behavioural changes, to bring about pollution reductions.
“Is this the best case scenario and has it been stress-tested if any of those assumptions are not delivered on?” he said.
Mr Bennett said they used Government (DEFRA) data sets but stress tests had not been built in.
He told Ms Child the four areas had been chosen as the focus for the hearing because although it was predicted air quality throughout Calderdale would be “well below” objectives but these were those which had the highest measurements.
Coun Howard Blagbrough (Con, Brighouse) said improvement schemes including the A641placed greater reliance on people cycling everywhere.
“But Brighouse is not flat and their proposals are totally flawed,” he said.
Julie Bullen, of Woodhouse Residents Association said the A641 scheme had been delayed and so the timely delivery of interventions was questionable.
A key point was an assumption HGV levels passing through Brighouse would remain the same – research she had undertaken with local companies indicated numbers were likely to rise, she said.
Other issues raised included traffic impacts from neighbouring authorities, including on the M62, and Mr Carlton raised the potential appearance of a major distribution warehouse being built in Kirklees which would add traffic at a junction.