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Chair’s Column – October 2015

Roger 2015 d low resAs we approach our AGM on 12 November and the ‘Routes to Clean Air’ conference on 22-23 October, it seems a good time to share some of my thoughts with you and bring you up to date with our activities.  Not least because my three-year term as your Chairman is nearing its end.  It has been a privilege to serve the IAQM in this capacity and I am pleased with the progress the Institute has made and with our achievements in this period.   I look forward to working with my successor as we continue with the development of our Institute. In recent days air quality has been very firmly in the news with the revelations of Volkswagen’s manipulation of engine control software. This has precipitated much discussion of the role of diesel cars have in contributing to urban air pollution.  Many of us will feel somewhat bemused that it should be treated as a surprise that diesel cars are emitting at much higher rates than permitted by Euro standards, but at least we should be grateful that the issue is now firmly embedded in the consciousness of politicians and the public.  All of our previous efforts at raising the profile of the issue have not really succeeded, so if it takes a corporate scandal to effect change then I for one will not quibble about the means. This recent development also neatly coincides with the release of Defra’s much-anticipated draft action plans, which (by contrast) received almost no coverage in the mainstream news media.  The IAQM will, of course, be responding formally to these plans by the closing date of 6 November and committee members are developing our response in the meantime.  If you have any succinct thoughts you would like to contribute, then do please feel free to pass them on to myself or Claire Holman. The draft action plans will still be highly topical by the time of our AGM on 12 November, to be held at the office of Arup in London.   To take advantage of this, we will be hosting a discussion meeting on this topic after the main business of the AGM, during which invited speakers, such as Alan Andrews (ClientEarth), will be presenting their views.   This will be a good opportunity for you to participate in an important discussion and discover firsthand how various influential organisations have reacted to the plans.  We will also invite Defra and DfT to the meeting, although they may not necessarily attend. Allowing for the fact that not all of you can easily attend events in London, I hope that many of you will be able to come to the AGM and be part of this important discussion. Prior to the AGM, our two-day conference will be held in Bristol and I hope to see some of you there.  This is the first time that IAQM has staged a two-day conference and we hope that it will be a success and reward the hard work put in by some members of our committee, not least Claire Holman.  We have certainly timed it well from the point of view of wider interest in air quality. Next year, we will be hosting more meetings of interest to members, including the return of DMUG in April and the launch of new minerals guidance in February.  If you would like to host a summer meeting in a venue outside of London, we are always pleased to take advantage of such offers and make it easier for some members to attend. Feedback on how the Institute is run and our activities is always welcome at any time – we exist to both to promote our profession and to provide a service to members.  One of our core objectives is to maintain professional standards and there are two main elements to this.  One is to scrutinise membership applications very carefully and the other is to encourage Continuing Professional Development. Recording CPD can sometimes seem like a tedious activity, but we all recognise that it is important.  To simplify the process, we have decided to adopt the IES’s new online tool for this purpose. In the future, we will expect all members to submit their record of activities using this method and this will serve as a dual record for both IES and IAQM.   The IES structure is not exactly aligned with our requirements, but it does enable us all to make a sufficiently useful record and thereby provide the Institute with a means of verifying CPD undertaken by members.  It is a requirement of being a member that CPD is undertaken and recorded. On that note, I should also add that we have developed a code of conduct for members, which will be published on our website shortly.   This is aimed at demonstrating to the wider audience that being a member has meaning and enhancing our professional status.  If I have achieved nothing else in my term as Chairman than this, I will be happy.
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