Revised guidance urges councils to improve air quality through better planning decisions

Local authorities should actively improve air quality through plan-making and development management decisions, according to updated planning practice guidance.

Revised planning guidance on air quality, published on Monday, advises authorities that consideration of air quality during plan-making can "help secure net improvements in overall air quality where possible". The previous version was published in 2014.

Authorities are newly advised they should take account of "trends" in air quality and to identify opportunities to "improve air quality or mitigate impacts" using measures such as "travel management and green infrastructure provision".

In development management, the guidance says authorities should consider "what would happen to air quality in the absence of the development".

The revised guidancePPG includes several new references to public health and biodiversity and states that these issues should also be considered in plan-making and planning decisions.

Plan-makers should take account of "clean air zones and other areas including sensitive habitats or designated sites of importance for biodiversity", it says.

Assessments of changes in air quality during the construction and operational phases of proposed development should include "the consequences of this for public health and biodiversity", the new guidance states.

Other key additions to the guidance include advice stating that air quality assessments supporting planning applications need not duplicate aspects of assessments conducted under non-planning regimes such as the Environmental Permitting Regulations.

The provision of electric vehicle charging infrastructure has been added to the list of specific issues that authorities may consider when assessing air quality impacts.

Authorities are also newly advised that any air quality mitigation measures must be location-specific.

Last month, the High Court rejected a developer’s appeal over two proposed schemes in Kent that had been rejected due to concerns over air quality.

The government also issued updated planning guidance on light pollution and on compliance with the Planning (Hazardous Substances) Regulations 2015.

Authorities are advised to consider whether new lighting will conflict with the needs of specialist facilities such as observatories, airports and general aviation facilities. "These include the safety of pedestrians and cyclists, and the needs of those whose activities rely on low levels of artificial light such as astronomers."

References to "European" protected sites have also been removed due to Brexit.

A version of this story was originally published by ENDS' sister publication, Planning.


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Related ENDS Compliance Content

  • Town and Country Planning Act 1990

    Town and Country Planning Act 1990

    In force/
    England, Wales
    03 Mar 2016


    07/07/2015 Amending Act (Planning (Wales) Act 2015) published., 27/10/2015 Amending Order (WSI 2015/1794) published., 22/02/2016 Amending Regulations (WSI 2016/53) published, in relation to Wales only., 27/04/2017 Amending Act (Neighbourhood Planning Act 2017) published.
    02/11/2017 Amending Regulations (SI 2017/1012) published., 28/11/2018 Amending Regulations (SI 2018/1232) published.

    Compliance Dates

    24/05/1990 Received Royal Assent



    Land and development


    OPSI (Office of Public Sector Information)

    Affected Sectors

    Mining and Quarrying Construction

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