More houses, more jobseekers, more jobs needed – whats the point?

In the middle of the month Cornwall Council released a press release entitled ‘As Cornwall Council prepares for elections in May, Council Leader John Pollard reflects on the achievements of the authority over the past four years.’

We have secured significant levels of investment through the Growth Deal to deliver transport improvements to encourage and facilitate economic growth in housing and employment. These schemes include A39 Falmouth Gateway, Redruth Strategic Employment Growth Package – Newquay Strategic Route (phase one complete), A38 Cornwall Gateway (Carkeel), Bodmin Cornwall’s Cycling Town, Truro Western Corridor , St Erth Multi Modal Hub and Callywith Roundabout.

Oh not again. You expand the road system to allow for more housing which needs more employment. You might create say 100 jobs but these are to meet the needs of the 100 new jobseekers in the 100 new houses. [On balance most new houses are to ‘accommodate’ new households who migrate to Cornwall, not for local need]. Cornwall is no better off than before! And there is more traffic as each household will have at least one car! And they will travel around by car!

Cornwall Clean Air (5) what we need to do!

We can divide the actions that are required to provide clean air (and other environmental goods) into two neat categories, those at a general strategic policy level and those at an individual level.

1) Policy level

Reduce the housing target in the Local plan to a sustainable level, one that meets local need not encourages people to move to Cornwall;

Encourage people to shop locally and use local facilities;

Reject development proposals which generate extra car traffic;

Invest in alternative transport – bus and rail;

Encourage non-car transport modes;

Discourage the widening of opening hours which encourages travel and reduces the scope for alternative transport modes;

Charge motorists for car parking in all car parks, particularly retail outlets.

2) Individual level/lifestyle choices

Despite the refrain that ‘in Cornwall you need a car’, in reality it’s not that you need a car but how often you use it and for what purpose.

People can reduce car use by: walking or cycling; catch a bus or use the train. Sometimes not travelling is an option;

Try to link various trips together such as shopping on the way back from work rather than making a separate trip;

Accept that living in Cornwall, particularly in more rural areas does mean that you cannot have the same lifestyle as if you were living in a large city;

Think about where you live or want to live – if you want to go out every night to enjoy the night life and fooderies – live in a town, don’t expect to travel in from your rural retreat;

And, above all think of others and the environment – your private car trip imposes costs on others!

Population projections – more houses – more population!

From Bernard Deacon on Facebook
Here’s something to cheer us all up. The most recent ONS population projections are suggesting the rate of population growth in Cornwall will rise from 6.6% in the last decade to 8.1% in the 2020s. At that rate of growth we’ll have a million by 2101. On the other hand ONS projections always exaggerate in-migration to Cornwall.

But here’s how the vicious circle works. Exaggerated projections produce excessive housing targets which lead to surplus houses which are then marketed to what is an effectively infinite demand to live the ‘Cornwall lifestyle’, thus creating the outcome the projections project. Job done.

Cornwall Clean Air (4) the developers

1 Planning and Air Quality: Guidance for Developers
1.1 How can Planning help improve air quality?
Land-use planning can play a critical role in improving local air quality. At the strategic level, spatial planning can provide for more sustainable
transport links between the home, workplace, educational, retail and leisure facilities, and identify appropriate locations for potentially polluting
industrial development. For an individual development proposal, there may be associated emissions from transport or combustion processes providing heat and power. [What is a sustainable transport link, unless it means limited car use, it is not sustainable!]

Although many individual developments may be small and have a minimal impact on traffic volumes and local air quality, cumulatively this level of
development will inevitably increase road congestion and have an associated impact on air quality. [All developments lead to higher levels of road congestion!]

The impacts of development proposals on air quality must be taken into account and Cornwall Council will seek to ensure that new developments do not exacerbate air quality problems in existing and potential AQMAs, or create new problems elsewhere.

Policies which reduce the need to travel and encourage access by non-car modes should help to reduce air pollution, as well as carbon emissions.
Cornwall Council will ensure that air quality is considered when assessing development proposals, particularly in or near AQMAs and where significant doubt arises as to the air quality impact then the precautionary principle should be applied.

All new developments will be expected to take account of the needs of cyclists and pedestrians either by the direct provision or by contribution to
new routes or links to existing routes within or adjoining a settlement. Developments which are likely to have significant transport implications
should provide a Travel Plan (TP) demonstrating practical measures for achieving sustainable transport objectives (CC Generic Action 5). [Cycling is not really a viable option and are travel plans worth the paper they are written on? – Probably not].

Planning officers routinely seek comments from Neighbourhoods and Neighbourhoods and Public Protection on various planning applications. This is particularly the case for any proposed development which might have an impact on existing air quality within or adjacent to an AQMA or area where concerns about air quality have been raised.

[If there was concern over the impact of new developments why would so many get permission? And why were houses built at Dolcoath next to a busy road!!!!]

Cornwall Clean Air (3)

Clean Air for Cornwall Strategy, Incorporating the Cornwall Air Quality Action Plan, February 2017

Our Commitments
AQ10. We will identify improvements for the bus networks,
giving priority to emissions:
a. We will endeavour to source buses with low or zero emissions in suitable locations;
b. We will incentivise commercial operators to purchase buses with lower emissions on replacement;
c. We will apply to the Green Bus Fund to help fund retrofitting of older buses.

AQ11. We will introduce and promote car clubs in suitable locations, setting minimum emission standards for clubs in AQMAs;

AQ12. We will deliver transport interventions which:
a. Reduce reliance on the private car; [How?]
b. Make public transport more accessible, reliable and an attractive alternative; {how?]
c. Make infrastructure improvements and promote cycling as an alternative means of transport; [Infrastructure improvements – to encourage car use? Cycling – not really a tenable alternative]
d. Require travel plans to be submitted for relevant new development; [And how will that actually reduce car use?]
e. Support school travel planning. [Again will it reduce car use, especially as the trend is towards more ‘choice’ in schools]

AQ13. Explore the introduction of 20mph zones where this might contribute to improving air quality;
AQ14. Work with the licensing team to set minimum emission requirements for taxis. This could include offering incentives for low or zero emission vehicles;
AQ15. We will lobby Highways England to provide assistance with improving air quality at Tideford;
AQ16. We will continue to expand the ECO Stars Fleet Recognition Scheme through Cornwall and introduce the taxi scheme in relevant locations;

Although the motives are fine, these will not deal with increasing traffic levels or the dominance of car use. More radical alternatives are needed.

Cornwall clean air (2) the ‘Local Plan’

1.2 Local Plan Policies
A review of the air quality policy was carried out as part of the Local Plan review process. It was felt that due to the increasing number of AQMAs,
national interest in air quality, better knowledge of health impacts, and increasing development in Cornwall, that the policy should be reviewed.
The new policy was moved from the design policies and incorporated into Policy 17 where it was felt to sit better alongside existing health policy.

The new policy, adopted in November 2016, reads:
“Air pollution is a top 10 cause of death in the UK. The main cause of poor air quality is vehicle emissions. Hot spots are declared under the
Environment Act 1995 as Air Quality Management Areas (AQMAs) and have Action Plans, to effect improvement, prepared for them that
include behaviour and infrastructure improvements. In Cornwall there are 6 AQMAs; Bodmin; Camborne-Pool-Redruth; Tideford; St Austell;
Gunnislake and Truro. This list is not exhaustive and candidate areas are continually being assessed.

Planning decisions, individually or cumulatively, should not lead to unacceptably poor air quality. In AQMAs, proposals must
demonstrate, by appropriate assessment methods set out in respective Action Plans, that they will not materially affect or degrade
AQMAs or present an unacceptable risk to human health either in terms of the significance of the number of people at risk or the
changes on the concentrations of pollutants. Development should not normally be allowed where acceptable mitigation cannot be identified.

Policy 17: Health and wellbeing
To improve the health and wellbeing of Cornwall’s communities, residents, workers and visitors, development should:
1. Protect, and alleviate risk to, people and the environment from unsafe, unhealthy and polluted environments by avoiding or
mitigating against harmful impacts and health risks such as air and noise pollution and water and land contamination and potential
hazards afforded from future climate change impacts; and

2. Where it affects Air Quality Management Areas, demonstrate that singularly or cumulatively, it will not cause increased risk to human
health from air pollution or exceeding EU standards. Measures proposed to mitigate this should reflect Cornwall’s Air Quality Action
Plan and Local Transport Plan and aimed at achieving reductions in pollutant emissions and public exposure; and…”

So what do we think?
It’s impossible to reconcile the objectives of improving air quality and environmental quality in general with the policies outlined in the Local Plan. To improve air quality requires a drastic revamp.

Current policies will make air quality worse by:

Encouraging the population and therefore car numbers to increase due to an unsustainable housing target;

Encouraging developments which will encourage car travel;

Carrying out road ‘improvements’ which will encourage car use;

Continue to allow and encourage a car-based tourist sector.

We need a new Local Plan!

Clean air for Cornwall (1) the issue.

Clean Air for Cornwall Strategy, Cornwall Council, report to cabinet, 16 March 2017

Air pollution is a problem in Cornwall, particularly for those in urban and urbanising areas.

In Cornwall, 17 neighbourhoods are among the most deprived (worst 10%) in England, and 9 of these are within AQMAs. The Neighbourhoods
and Public Protection Service has therefore sought to develop a robust policy for improving air quality linked to other areas of work within the

The aims of the Clean Air for Cornwall Strategy are:
 To raise awareness of air quality problems in Cornwall and provide an integrated approach to improving air quality;
 To reduce levels of pollution within AQMAs to below objective levels and improve the air quality in Cornwall as a whole;
 To raise awareness of the links between health and travel, in respect of both air quality, and personal fitness;
 To raise awareness and provide policy, guidance, and a framework for development and impact mitigation to those wishing to develop
in Cornwall;
 To provide an approach for reducing emissions of fine particulates (PM2.5) in order to help improve and protect public health; and
 To improve Cornwall Council’s performance in terms of emissions (primarily transport, but also fixed emissions such as heating) and
to provide strong leadership with regard to environmental sustainability and ensure that all Council activity is integrated in
considering the effect it has on air pollution.

Sounds good but what can and should be done? For the rest of this week we will be exploring the issues, problems and options.