Air Quality – a ticking time bomb for commercial property and land developers?

  • Landmark launches SiteSolutions Air Quality Screening Report to provide vital intelligence for commercial planning applications and conveyancing due-diligence
  • First risk screening report to identify non-compliant areas to help commercial developers avoid planning constraints related to air quality
  • New Defra consultation, published on 12th September, emphasises the central role of local authorities in achieving improvements in air quality, and suggests ways in which nitrogen dioxide levels could be reduced

With Local Authorities facing greater pressure to tackle localised air pollution issues following the publication of a new Air Quality consultation paper by Defra, Landmark Information Group, the UK’s leading supplier of digital mapping, property and environmental risk information, has today announced the launch of the UK’s first conveyance-ready air quality screening report. The SiteSolutions Air Quality Screening Report identifies ‘non-compliant’ areas – both now and in the future – and helps commercial property developers, investors and conveyancing professionals in determining air quality risks related to land or property assets.

For areas where pollutants exceed national objectives, local authorities designate an ‘Air Quality Management Area’ (AQMA). Currently there are over 580 AQMAs located across 239 Local Authorities, which cover a total area of 3,600km2. By being located within an AQMA, it automatically places greater scrutiny – and potential costs or delays – onto commercial planning applications or re-developments, where air quality will need to be factored in to the process.

Confirms Angela Gordon Lennox , Legal Product Manager at Landmark Information Group: “As far as I am concerned, the topic of Air Quality relating to commercial land, properties and subsequent planning applications is a ticking time bomb: the Government is currently working on a major new strategy to tackle the UK’s air pollution after the Supreme Court ruled it was in breach of air quality regulations, and as such, Local Authorities have a responsibility to review and control air quality.  For commercial developers, land owners and investors, this means air quality will become more of a consideration as commercial planning applications will come under more intense scrutiny in this increasingly sensitive area.”

Continues Angela: “Having access to risk screening data will therefore provide the intelligence needed so developers or investors are fully aware of their position – either prior to purchase via your conveyancer, or when applying for planning consent. For example, is the land or commercial property located within an AQMA, is air quality being measured within the vicinity, what industrial emissions are nearby, and what is the future air quality anticipated to look like? By having this knowledge upfront, it will help developers make adjustments to their plans, to take into account the local authority’s air quality agenda, or even assist in avoiding the acquisition of ‘stranded assets’ due to planning constraints in the first place.”

Major towns that are entirely covered by AQMA include Liverpool, Birmingham, Sheffield, Coventry, Oxford, Glasgow and most of London. Other large towns such as Manchester, Edinburgh and Bristol have AQMA covering the road network and smaller localised areas. Within the last month, more AQMAs have been announced, including two in Bedfordshire, plus an increased boundary around Edinburgh.

Working with industry specialists, Aeris, Landmark has introduced the first air quality screening report to the commercial conveyancing and property market. The SiteSolutions Air Quality Screening Report provides an early warning of any current or future atmospheric pollution issues that have the potential to impact the value of the property or result in planning restrictions or constraints.

Commenting on the launch of the report, Stephen Mills, Director of Aeris said: “Air quality is an important consideration in every commercial property transaction, as it could ultimately have a material impact on the operational use or future development of the site. We have seen many examples where planning applications have had to be adapted, changed or not progressed as a result of Air Quality issues. The new SiteSolutions Air Quality report from Landmark assesses the impact of poor air quality on a commercial property now and in the future, and provides developers, investors and commercial property conveyancers with access to valuable due diligence that can be relied upon.”

What the SiteSolutions Air Quality Screening Report Includes:

  • Air Quality Management Areas: Details the existence of any AQMAs within 500m of the site, which are highly likely to have an impact on the future use or enjoyment of the site; this information may be considered as part of any planning decisions made by the Local Authority.
  • Air Quality Monitoring Stations: Highlights if air is being monitored within 500 metres of the site in question.
  • Local Emissions Sources: The UK National Atmospheric Emissions Inventory collates annual pollutant emission information from a wide range of sources. The report provides details of any relevant known emission sources within 500m of the site, including the recorded pollutant and emission levels in relation to national average emissions.
  • Predicted Air Quality Issues: Modelled legislated limits and forecast air quality provides an indication as to whether poor air quality is likely to become an important consideration for the site in years to come, which may lead to costs or restrictions on site use.

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This article was submitted to be published by Landmark Information Group as part of their advertising agreement with Today’s Conveyancer. The views expressed in this article are those of the submitter and not those of Today’s Conveyancer.

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