Venue: Meeting Room 1, Abbey House, Abbey Close, Abingdon, OX14 3JE
Contact: Emily Barry, Democratic Services Officer Tel: 07717 272442
Election of a chair for this meeting
In the absence of the committee’s chair and vice-chair, the meeting was asked to elect a chair for this meeting.
RESOLVED: to elect Councillor Ali Gordon-Creed as the chair for this meeting.
Apologies for absence
To record apologies for absence.
Apologies for absence were received from Councillors Peter Dragonetti, Katharine Keats-Rohan, Axel Macdonald, Ben Manning and Jo Robb.
To adopt and sign as a correct record the General Licensing Committee minutes of the meeting held on 18 May 2023.
RESOLVED: to approve the minutes of the meeting held on 18 May 2023 as a correct record and agree that the Chair sign these as such.
Declarations of interest
To receive declarations of disclosable pecuniary interests, other registrable interests and non-registrable interests or any conflicts of interest in respect of items on the agenda for this meeting.
There were none.
Urgent business and chair's announcements
To receive notification of any matters which the chair determines should be considered as urgent business and the special circumstances which have made the matters urgent, and to receive any announcements from the chair.
To receive any questions or statements from members of the public that have registered to speak.
Gill Bindoff, Chair of the Watlington Neighbourhood Plan Advisory Board, addressed the committee regarding the Joint Air Quality Action Plan. Her statement focused specifically on the revocation of the Watlington Air Quality Management Area.
To consider the report of the Head of Housing and Environment in relation to the adoption of the council’s new joint Air Quality Action Plan.
The Environmental Services Manager introduced the report to the committee. He advised that the Joint Air Quality Action Plan (AQAP) represented a significant step forward for communities and included a number of measures to improve air quality. The plan was the result of successful engagement with air quality partners (Oxfordshire County Council and Highways England) and encompassed a wide range of key areas including the promotion of public transport, the review of options to reduce freight emissions, the promotion of cycling, and the development of options to reduce traffic emissions within specific Air Quality Management Areas (AQMA). The Environmental Services Manager advised that the plan had been compiled in line with strict technical guidance from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) and sought to reduce nitrogen dioxide levels in only the council’s declared AQMAs, those being Henley-on-Thames, Wallingford and Watlington.
The Head of Housing and Environment clarified a point in relation to the engagement which had been carried out in advance of the plan being finalised and confirmed that all ward members for Air Quality Management Areas had attended briefings in March 2023. The committee asked for clarification on this point as the public speaker believed that there had been insufficient engagement with Watlington in relation to the plan. The Head of Housing and Environment advised that initial contact would have been made with the relevant ward members. The agreement was that they would then disseminate the information to their town and parish councils. He went on to advise that through the six-week public consultation, all members of the public, including the Parish Council had an opportunity to respond (and did so).
The committee asked officers to clarify when the data was collected, specifically in Watlington. The Team Leader (Environmental Protection) advised that there was a continuous analyser running 24 hours a day, seven days a week and that there were diffuser tubes on lampposts which were changed monthly and both had been in place for over 10 years. He went on to clarify that in order for the revocation of an AQMA to be considered there must be 5 consecutive years of annual mean NO2 concentrations being lower than 36µg/m3. The Team Leader (Environmental Protection) confirmed that DEFRA had instructed the council not to count the Covid years of 2020 and 2021 in the analysis due to the natural effects of the lockdowns on levels of NO2 and therefore it would be three more years before revocation of the AQMA in Watlington could be considered. He informed the committee that after five continuous years of reduction, the revocation process could begin but Air Quality (AQ) monitoring would still continue after this point.
The committee suggested that the years where data was impacted by Covid should be highlighted more clearly in the report, specifically the graphs. The Team Leader (Environmental Protection) agreed this could be considered in our Annual Status Reports but advised the committee, that the template in the report was prescribed and set out ... view the full minutes text for item 14.