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Pollution

Air Quality

Air quality has undoubtedly improved greatly since the deadly smogs of the mid 20th century that killed so many. However, air pollution in the UK still significantly reduces average life expectancy, causes many extra admissions to hospitals and damages the natural environment

Local Air Quality

We are fortunate in Torridge to enjoy air quality that is generally very good.  The Council is determined to keep it that way and to secure further improvements wherever possible.

The Environmental Protection Team works to monitor and improve local air quality;  we also investigate complaints.

Air Quality and Climate Change Strategy

Air quality is an issue of public concern wherever you live.  In recent years, the related issue of 'climate change' has come to the fore.  Council's are increasingly being relied on to drive reductions in climate forcing emissions and to lessen the impacts that Climate Change has on our lives.

The Council has adopted an pdf icon Air Quality Strategy [1009kb] setting out what it is doing with regard to safeguarding and improving air quality and how it will contribute to tackling Climate Change.  The Strategy includes specific recommendations for action that are designed to enhance collaboration between the various stakeholders and better coordinate efforts.

Local Air Quality Management

Local Air Quality Management (LAQM) is a regime set up by Government under the Environment Act 1995 Part IV and associated regulations. The LAQM process places an obligation on all local authorities to regularly review and assess air quality in their areas and to ensure specific air quality objectives are achieved. Where one or more air quality objective is considered likely to be exceeded the Local Authority must declare an Air Quality Management Area (AQMA) to address the problem. Most of the objectives are concerned with the protection of human health, although some are designed to protect eco-systems and vegetation.

The pollutants for which objectives have been set are benzene, 1,3-butadiene, carbon monoxide, lead, nitrogen dioxide, particulates (PM10) and sulphur dioxide.

The Council's Environmental Protection Team carries out the review and assessment process and produces regular reports on its findings.

Healthy Air Campaign

Further information about the importance of good air quality is available from the Healthy Air website:  http://healthyair.org.uk/

Bonfires

Although the Council has no specific bye-laws to control bonfires, it has powers under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 to act if it considers a bonfire a legal nuisance.

In built-up areas, having frequent bonfires is likely to upset neighbours.  Disposal of waste by burning is best avoided: composting of garden waste is recommended.

Material such as plastic and rubber should NEVER be burned owing because they are likely to create particularly hazardous emissions.

Please see downloads for a useful leaflet on bonfires or the section on Noise and other Statutory Nuisances for more information

Contaminated Land

Environmental Protection works to minimise the impact of land contamination on public health and to ensure that contamination issues are addressed when land is developed.

If you are concerned about possible land contamination, please contact the Environmental Protection Team with details of the location affected and any background information you can provide us with.

Contaminated Land Strategy

Since April 2000, local authorities have had a duty to manage contaminated land issues within their areas.  This duty was conferred by Part 2A of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 and associated Statutory Guidance.  The Act gives local authorities the lead role in dealing with contaminated land and requires them to publish a written strategy setting out how they will carry out their duties.

Torridge District Council published its contaminated land strategy in June 2001: Torridge District Council - Contaminated Land Inspection Strategy.  In April 2013 the 2001 strategy was reviewed and revised following publication of new Statutory Guidance.

pdf icon click here for a copy of the revised strategy [595kb]

For further information on the Council's Contaminated Land Strategy, please contact the Environmental Protection Team.

In accordance with section 78R of the Environmental Protection Act 1990, local authorities must maintain a register of all regulatory action we have undertaken in respect to the remediation of contaminated land.  To date, Torridge District Council has made no entry on this register.

Farm Waste, Slurry & Agricultural Odours

During the spring and in the summer after harvesting, Torridge Council frequently receives complaints concerning agricultural odours within the district.

Generally, the most common source of odour complaints relate to the storing and spreading of animal manure and slurries (muck spreading), bio-solids (sewage sludge), and digestate biofertiliser(from anaerobic digestion plant). Generally the practice of incorporating manures and bio-solids into agricultural land is legitimate and is considered the best option for disposal. The spreading of pre-treated sewage sludge is also a perfectly lawful activity and considered the best practicable environmental option for disposal of such wastes.

Although spreading is a standard agricultural practice, and odour must be expected from time to time, spreading should always be undertaken in accordance with the best practice guidance given in the DEFRA Code of Good Agricultural Practice for farmers, growers and land managers, subsection 5.4:

http://www.defra.gov.uk/publications/files/pb13558-cogap-090202.pdf

Best practice advice from DEFRA includes the following:

If possible, to reduce odour and ammonia loss:
  • use a band spreader or injector to apply slurry
  • otherwise, use broadcast equipment with a low trajectory and large droplets. Broadcast slurry (by splash plate) should be incorporated immediately and at the latest within 6 hours
  • if solid manure, it should be incorporated as soon as possible and at the latest within 24 hours
Livestock manures should not be applied when:
  • the soil is waterlogged; or
  • the soil is frozen hard; or the field is snow covered; or
  • heavy rain is forecast within the next 48 hours
Livestock manures and dirty water should not be spread:
  • within 10 metres of any ditch, pond or surface water; or
  • within 50 metres of any spring, well, borehole or reservoir that supplies water for human consumption or for farm dairies; or
  • on very steep slopes where run-off is a high risk throughout the year

The Code also advises that the best conditions for spreading are where air mixes to a great height above the ground, which are typically sunny, windy days, followed by cloudy, windy nights.  These conditions cause odours to be diluted quickly.

Farmers are advised to avoid spreading at weekends, bank holidays, in the evening or in fields close to and upwind of houses, unless it is solid manure that has been well composted, or slurry that is to be band spread, injected or has been treated to reduce odour.

There is a large amount of working farmland within Torridge. Agricultural odours can from time to time be conveyed some distance across fields on prevailing winds into residential areas which may be detected by residents. The duration and intensity of the odour is often difficult to predict depending on weather conditions but odours usually only last for a short period of time. However, if we become aware of unacceptable odours produced by spreading agricultural materials in a manner which does not follow the Code of Good Agricultural Practice, an officer will contact the person(s) responsible for the spreading and enforcement action can be considered where the issue cannot be resolved informally.

Here are some frequently asked questions

How often can someone muck spread?  There is no limit
Can they do it two days in a row?          Yes
How much can they spread?Please contact the Environment Agency on 0800 807060 or send an email to enquiries@environment-agency.gov.uk
Who can muck spread?

There is no definite answer but some operations may need a licence from the Environment Agency. Please contact the Environment Agency

Where and what can be spread?Check notes above which will give some answers, but for more information please contact the Environment Agency
Are there any times spreading is not allowed?No
How valid is the guidance?

It is purely guidance.  It is not law but the Council would have more of a case for enforcement if the guidance has not been followed

 

We will not usually consider complaints unless the odour persists for at least 24 hrs after spreading has been completed

Odour from many agricultural operations is inevitable. Farmers should, however, minimise nuisance by following the DEFRA Codes of Good Agricultural Practice.

If you believe you are being unreasonably affected by agricultural activities please contact the Environmental Protection Team for further advice.

Certain matters, such as water pollution arising from farm wastes, are dealt with by the Environment Agency who can be contacted on 03708 506506 or send an email to enquiries@environment-agency.gov.uk