HC Deb 18 January 2001 vol 361 cc295-6W
Paddy Ashdown

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if he will make a statement on air quality within the Yeovil constituency. [144609]

Mr. Meacher

The Yeovil constituency is covered by South Somerset District Council, which is reviewing and assessing the current, and likely future, air quality in its area, as required under Part IV of the Environment Act 1995.

South Somerset District Council, Mendip District Council, Taunton Deane Borough Council and West Somerset District Council, submitted a preliminary air quality review and assessment report to my Department in February 1999. South Somerset produced its own further report in June 2000 and the Council is currently working on its final review and assessment report, but has regrettably missed the deadline of end December 2000. My officials will be meeting with representatives from South Somerset later this month to discuss their progress so far and to agree a formal timetable for submitting the final stages of the Council's review and assessment work.

South Somerset does not currently anticipate any exceedences of the national air quality objectives in respect of benzene; 1,3-butadiene; carbon monoxide; lead; sulphur dioxide; and particles (PM10) in its area. None of the industrial processes in and around Yeovil constituency has been identified as a major source of concern. South Somerset has, however, indicated within its reports that an area of Yeovil (near the major roads A30 and A37) has been identified as having potentially significant levels of nitrogen oxides. This is being investigated further, in order to assess whether or not an air quality management area needs to be declared in the vicinity of these major roads.

There is no automatic monitoring site on our national network within the Yeovil constituency. A mobile laboratory has been used for short periods by South Somerset District Council to monitor NO2 and PM10 levels in Yeovil, and some basic monitoring of NO2 has also been carried out with diffusion tubes. South Somerset has recently secured a Supplementary Credit Approval of £39k from my Department for a new continuous monitor which I understand will be situated in the grounds of Yeovil District Hospital near the A37, A30 hospital roundabout, which is believed to be the worst pollution hotspot in Yeovil. The monitor will be measuring NO2 and PM10 concentrations.