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Chair’s Column – January 2016

claire-holman-lancsHappy New Year to all IAQM members. I would like to thank you for electing me as your new IAQM Chair in November.  I am looking forward to leading the development of the Institute over the next three years.  It will be a difficult job following Roger Barrowcliffe’s successful three-year term.  Our membership continues to grow and we have increased the diversity of events for members and our influence on policy.  New guidance to help members undertake their work was produced on the assessment of construction impacts, operational impacts (in association with EPUK) and odour.  We have also started to produce a series of policy statements; the first on mitigation measures is available on our website (pdf).  We have also produced a code of conduct (pdf) to complement that produced by the IES (pdf).  It is important that you read these documents and understand their implications for your work. I would like to introduce myself.  My initiation in the air quality field was my PhD research under Prof. Roy Harrison as one of his first research students.  I then worked at Edinburgh University before deciding the academic world was not for me.  Following a few years at Friends of the Earth, teaching environmental chemistry and several other jobs, I returned to working on air quality policy, focusing on road transport impacts and served on the Government’s Quality of Urban Air Review Group (QUARG), a precursor of the current Air Quality Expert Group (AQEG), and a Department for Transport research group on cleaner vehicles and fuels. I worked initially for myself and then joined SENCO, a small consultancy that undertook policy support largely for the European Commission and the European Environment Agency.  In my mid-40s I joined Peter Brett Associates, the civil engineering, transport and environment consultancy partnership.  I was attracted by the job advertisement that mentioned ‘flexible’ working.  I never did discover what they meant.  I spend 10 years working hard for them developing their air quality, acoustics, microclimate and health impact assessment services, largely for the land development industry, before being head-hunted by ENVIRON (now part of Ramboll). I was elected Vice-Chair of IAQM in November 2012 and since 2013 I have worked for my own consultancy, Brook Cottage Consultants Ltd, as well as having a part-time research post at the University of Birmingham, which finished at the end of December. The next IAQM committee meeting shall take place near the end of January and will confirm our events programme for 2016.  The first shall be the one day Dispersion Modellers User Group meeting (DMUG) which will take place in London on Tuesday 19th April .  Other proposed events include a 2-day conference outside London following on from last year’s very successful Routes to Clean Air conference in Bristol, as well as some discussion meetings on monitoring and mitigation and the launch of the new IAQM guidance on the assessment of dust from mineral sites.  All these shall be confirmed following our next committee meeting.  If you have any views on our provisional programme of events or would like to host a discussion meeting outside London, please let me know before 15th January. For those who attended the habitats discussion meeting last July, we will be following up with a policy statement on the use of the Environment Agency’s 1% criteria and CIEEM are leading the development of new guidance on the interface between air quality and Habitats Regulations Assessments. The IAQM Committee continues to provide input to Government consultations.  Most recently we have responded to the Transport Committee’s call for evidence on vehicle type approval and currently a small group of Committee members are reviewing the draft LAQM documents and are preparing our response to Defra’s consultation which closes on 21st of this month.  Producing responses to government consultations is time consuming and we are very grateful to all those who contribute. I am sure 2016 will be a very busy year for air quality.  We are all going to have to understand the new policy and technical guidance, and we will watch with great interest the responses from the European Commission and ClientEarth to Defra’s air quality action plan.  There are to be Clean Air Zones (previously known as low emission zones) in Birmingham, Leeds, Southampton, Nottingham and Derby covering diesel buses, coaches, taxis and lorries. I am somewhat disappointed that Defra have not read my recent review of the efficacy on low emission zones (pdf).  It concluded that only the German LEZs which also restrict diesel cars have been shown to be effective, and even they have only reduced annual mean concentrations by a few percent.  Defra have put their faith in the effectiveness on selective catalytic reduction (SRC) working in congested traffic.  I wish I shared their confidence.   Claire Holman
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