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Chair’s Column – January 2015

Roger 2015 d low resWe are now one month into 2015, a year that will no doubt see some interesting developments in the world of air quality.   Most obviously, we have a general election in May that is bound to have some ramifications for us, one way or another, and air quality may even feature in the campaigning. This will also be my last year as your Chair, as by November I will have served my three years and it will be time to hand over to someone else.   It is right that we refresh our leadership on a regular and frequent basis and my successor will have my full support in continuing to develop IAQM and strengthen its influence.   In the meantime there is much to do and I am taking this opportunity to update you on some of the activities your committee members are engaged in. Continuing the political theme, I should mention that I attended a meeting at the House of Lords last week, where the idea of an ‘Air Quality Alliance’ was discussed.  This would be a semi-formal group of organisations seeking to promote measures to improve air quality, such as those recommended by the Environmental Audit Committee, for example.  With the general election not far away, an opportunity exists to make air quality a more prominent issue than it is currently.  The meeting was convened by EPUK, with support from several members of the House of Lords.  My purpose in attending this initial meeting was to ensure that IAQM was aware of the development and to play a part, should we decide that it is appropriate to do so.  As a professional institute, we must be careful not to stray into territory that is the preserve of campaigning groups, such as EPUK.  Your views on the extent of our involvement in this initiative are welcomed. On 2 February, I will be representing IAQM at a PHE hosted event for stakeholders to explore how best PHE can use its resources to improve health outcomes related to air pollution.   This follows an initial advisory group meeting in November that I also participated in.  It is important that IAQM is represented at such meetings, as we seek to increase our authority and influence on matters of air quality. You will be aware that the current government has proposed some changes to the LAQM regulations and consultation closed at the end of January.  Our response was discussed and agreed at our recent committee meeting and you can see this on the IAQM web site.  In summary, our view is that the most notable feature of these proposals is what is not included, rather than what is.  Without details of new guidance to accompany the changes in regulations, it is difficult to comprehend what the effect on air quality management will be. We have our own ‘live’ consultation at present, in the form of the EPUK/IAQM planning guidance document.  This is open until 16 February.   This will be an important part of our professional lives after it is agreed and published, so I would urge you to participate and make your views known on any points you feel strongly about.   Our aim is to launch the final version at an event on 15th April.   Also on the subject of planning, you will notice that we have prepared and adopted an IAQM position statement on mitigation measures, which outlines the principles that we support.  I am indebted to Fiona Prismall for taking the lead on this. Our planning guidance will add to the existing IAQM guidance on assessing construction dust and odour.  We are also seeking to add to this portfolio of guidance by considering the topic of minerals.  A working group has been established under the leadership of Claire Holman and will be meeting at intervals until a draft is ready for consultation. Another initiative that I hope will come to fruition in 2015 is a plan to hold an event that will be for members in the early phase of their career and allow them to deliver presentations on topics of their choice to their peers.  We hope to have a firm proposal on this by the Spring. There are (at least) two interesting and important IAQM events to be held in 2015.  In the summer, on 16 July, we are holding a joint event with CIEEM on air quality impacts on ecosystems.  This will be free to IAQM members.  In the autumn, we are hosting a two day event in Bristol to mark the city being the Green Capital of Europe.  The programme for this is developing well and I very much look forward to being part of it.  My thanks go to Claire Holman, who has played a large part in organising both events. So, we have another interesting year ahead and with some surprises in store no doubt.   If and when they occur, we’ll be sure to react.  I, along with the committee, will continue to represent members’ interests to the best of our ability, but we are always open to fresh ideas as to how we can do this better.  If you have any such ideas or comments do please get in touch.
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