Clarification of basis upon which Developer & Transport Officer Concerns were adjudged to be misplaced by Environmental Protection Officer

Response to this request is long overdue. By law, under all circumstances, Brighton and Hove City Council should have responded by now (details). You can complain by requesting an internal review.

Dear Brighton and Hove City Council,

The updated transport consultee comment for planning application BH2017/02680 for St Aubyns School in Rottingdean dated 12 September 2018 includes the following comments:

"It is acknowledged that the Development & Transport Assessment Team expressed concern about the impact of additional traffic in an earlier response to the case officer about this application. To clarify, this was intended to be in relation to the potential effect of that traffic on air quality in the context of the Air Quality Management Area. Discussions on this issue with the council’s Environmental Protection (Air Quality) Officer have clarified that these concerns were misplaced. "

As the council did not predict that recent rising congestion would result in such a rise in NO2 in the AQMA, it is very important that this "clarifying that these concerns were misplaced", is open to public examination, so this request seeks the information needed for that examination.

The DfT rightly regards the impact of even small volumes of extra traffic in an AQMA as potentially significant. DEFRA stresses the importance of measuring and predicting congestion, traffic speeds and traffic volumes accurately. So it is vital that information is made publicly available as to how the officer determined these concerns were misplaced.

This includes, but is not limited to, details as to which of the concerns were discussed and on what basis each of them (and their cumulative impact) was determined to be a "misplaced" concern in the context of estimating the impacts on NO2 in the AQMA, including any notes, correspondence or reports covering these discussions.

In addition, assuming formal or informal sensitivity analysis was performed concerning the issues raised by Highway Authority about inaccurate traffic data (including queues) and failing to validate the traffic predictive model, please provide any analysis or consultants' reports that confirmed or suggested that these concerns were misplaced (in the context of Air Quality).

Yours faithfully,

Mr N Smith

Freedom Of Information, Brighton and Hove City Council

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Freedom of Information request
Our reference: 2189365
Your reference: [FOI #520868 email]

show quoted sections

Dear Brighton and Hove City Council,

To date I have not received a reply to this FoI request. I would appreciate a response.

Yours sincerely,

Mr Nigel Smith

Dear Mr Smith
 
We are sorry we have not yet managed to provide a response. I have
reminded the Council team who are handling your request.
 
Yours sincerely
 
Information Compliance Officer

--------------------------------------------------------------------------

Dear Brighton and Hove City Council,

To date I have not received a reply to this FoI request. I would
appreciate a response.

Yours sincerely,

Mr Nigel Smith

show quoted sections

1 Attachment

 
 
 
 
 
Freedom of Information request
Our reference: 2189365
Your reference: [FOI #520868 email]

show quoted sections

Dear Brighton and Hove City Council,

This FoI was addressed to the council, not to Transport, as who takes responsibility for how traffic models impact NO2 dispersion models is not clear from outside the council.

Yet as DEFRA makes clear, it is essential that dispersion models are properly informed about current and future congestion, speed and traffic volumes.

I.e. it was the information that was requested, irrespective of which department sourced it.

If the correct response is that no one in the council is responsible for the accuracy of composite modelling (I.e. for dispersion models built on top of traffic models as is normal) then please put that in writing.

If someone is responsible, please ensure they respond to this request with the required information.

You wrote "The council does not hold any records or documentation of any
discussions about this concern"

There is something absurd about NO2 increasing by 9% when the model said it would decrease by 2%, with the AQ Expert attributing this to rising congestion at the junction and the Transport Expert saying the junction modelling was poor ... and no one putting 2+2 together to advise the Planning Committee the modelling is unreliable, and there also being no documentation recording this concern or its resolution.

The Freedom of Information Act does not require the person making requests to be bounced through the council's reporting and responsibility structure, having to make several requests, each with their own delays, in order to obtain information.

Yours sincerely,

Mr Nigel Smith

Dear Brighton and Hove City Council,

To date I have not received a reply to this FoI request despite a previous reminder. I would appreciate a full response as soon as possible.

Yours sincerely,

Mr Nigel Smith

Dear Mr Smith
 
We have passed your question on again to the Council team that provided
the response.
 
Yours sincerely
 
Information Compliance Officer

--------------------------------------------------------------------------

Dear Brighton and Hove City Council,

To date I have not received a reply to this FoI request despite a previous
reminder. I would appreciate a full response as soon as possible.

Yours sincerely,

Mr Nigel Smith

show quoted sections

Dear Mr Smith
 
The Council Team have provided the response below to your additional
question.
 
Yours sincerely
 
Information Compliance Officer
________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
 
 
I understand that your original request did not refer to, or request
information about, respective responsibilities for individual types of
models. However, to clarify this matter I have been advised that:-
The type, and use, of any traffic information or data within an air
quality dispersion model would initially be considered by the council's
Senior Technical Officer with knowledge of and responsibilities for air
quality, and assessed in line with relevant guidance. For a detailed air
quality assessment, it is normal practice to use baseline traffic data
from automatic traffic counters. If these are not available, camera or
manual counts can be used. Dispersion model baseline results are verified
with roadside pollutant monitoring. The type, and use, of any traffic
information or data within a traffic model would initially be considered
by an appropriate officer (or officers) from within the council's
Transport Projects & Engineering, Transport Policy & Strategy or Traffic
Management Groups, subject to the type of model and the reason for its
use. Predictions of traffic growth in future years are usually calculated
by applicants using recognised, industry-standards tools, alongside
predictions of the likely traffic generated or attracted by new
developments. These figures will form part of a Transport Assessment [TA]
that will be reviewed by officers within the council's Transport Policy &
Strategy Group. Figures within the TA may then be used to determine future
road traffic emissions and inputs to the dispersion model. Therefore, if
data from a traffic model are used within an air quality model for
example, the use of those data would be initially assessed by the
council's Senior Technical Officer with responsibilities for air quality,
in line with the above explanation. All of these officers are now part of
the council's City Transport Division, hence the previous reference to
City Transport officers in the council's response to your original
request. With regard to your specific comment about differences between
monitored data and model outputs, the council's Senior Technical Officer
considers that a 3µg/m 3 increase at one monitor between 2015 and 2017 is
not comparable with model predictions for 2019.
There are no further records to send you. The issue was discussed and
resolved by the relevant officers.
 
 
__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Dear Mr Smith
 
We have passed your question on again to the Council team that provided
the response.
 
Yours sincerely
 
Information Compliance Officer

--------------------------------------------------------------------------

Dear Brighton and Hove City Council,

To date I have not received a reply to this FoI request despite a previous
reminder. I would appreciate a full response as soon as possible.

Yours sincerely,

Mr Nigel Smith

show quoted sections

Dear Brighton and Hove City Council,

Thank you for your lengthy response. If I've read this correctly, it can be simplified to read:

It is right for officers to say a downward trend is indicative.
It is wrong for residents to suggest an upward trend is indicative.
It is wrong to point out that the downward trend is actually upward.

Factors influencing NO2 are complex, so use validated models.
If models report an upward trend, say they suggest a downward trend.

If the Council's report to DEFRA says NO2 compliance is unlikely, say that officers are confident there will be no problem in the year 2019.

Have I understood this correctly?

Yours sincerely,

Mr Nigel Smith

Dear Brighton and Hove City Council,

I have requested an internal review. I seek clarification/ correction of the following officer statement.

"With regard to your specific comment about differences between monitored data and model outputs, the council's Senior Technical Officer considers that a 3µg/m3 increase at one monitor between 2015 and 2017 is not comparable with model predictions for 2019."

It is clear the 10% rise between 2015 and 2017 is comparable with the model predictions for 2019 ... DEFRA model validation requires you to compare modelled NO2 with measured NO2 and a model that calculates a -0.2mg/m3 fall instead of a +3.7mg/m3 rise is clearly not fit for predicting 2019's Air Quality.

The STO commented elsewhere on the recent circumstances (congestion) driving the NO2 increase at E22 (versus E23) so it is bizarre to use an obsoleted longterm downward trend to suggest NO2 will fall from 41.4mg/m3 to below 40.0mg/m3 limit next year, when both the modelling and the recent trend says it is rising.

***

If I have understood this correctly, if the applicant (or independent traffic consultants) corrects his erroneous traffic data (the prime cause of his model errors), and the model then predicts a further 4.0mg/m3 rise in NO2 by 2019, this, like his existing predicted somewhat lower rise, will still be irrelevant as the STO feels the long-term downward trend is the key factor?

You may wonder why DEFRA requires models at all!

Does not City Plan Policy SU9 (and NPPF 2012) state that adding to an exceedence of NO2 in an AQMA is unacceptable if it makes it harder to meet statutory targets?

Doesn't the July 2018 NPPF Revision (Section 181) confirm this is more than a general principle and applies to individual decisions?

Does not the council's LAQM 2018 ASR says unidentified remedial action is needed to meet the NO2 target (so approving adding NO2 can hardly be claimed to contribute to meeting the target)?

No one doubts that the applicant adds NO2, no impartial person looking at the current level of NO2 exceedence, the recent trend and even the applicant's modelling could doubt the exceedence will be even greater in 2019/20.

For avoidance of confusion which has already occurred in officer statements:

Do officers understand that as is the case with E22, if the most recent movements year on year are in an upward direction, this is a Rising Trend and to present a rising trend as a falling trend (or anything other than a rising trend) is misleading?

If the above is accepted, please state clearly the circumstances under which SU9 and NPPF (including the July 2018 Section 181 revision) permit this to be ignored when determining a planning application.

Yours sincerely,

Mr Nigel Smith

 
 
 
 
 
Freedom of Information request
Our reference: 2189365
Your reference: [FOI #520868 email]

show quoted sections

Dear Brighton and Hove City Council,

Although you said you would aim to respond by 3rd January, I do not appear to have had a reponse as yet (19th Feb).

Yours sincerely,

Mr Nigel Smith

Dear Brighton and Hove City Council,

I am still awaiting a response detailing the outcome of the internal review which was raised on 3rd December 2018 with a response / outcome promised by 3rd January 2019.

Yours sincerely,

Mr Smith

Yours sincerely,

Mr Smith

 
 
 
 
 
Freedom of Information request
Our reference: 2189365
Your reference: [FOI #520868 email]

show quoted sections

 
 
 
 
 
Freedom of Information request
Our reference: 2189365
Your reference: [FOI #520868 email]
 

Dear Mr Smith

Freedom of Information Act 2000: Internal review request reference 2189365

Further to our earlier correspondence, unfortunatly we are continuing to
work on your internal review request. 

We therefore need to extend the deadline to 26 May 2020.  We apologise for
any inconvenience this may cause. 

Please note that due to the current Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, our
responses may be further delayed as staff may become absent or deployed to
other areas of work at short notice.

Please be aware that the Information Governance team currently has no
capacity to receive or respond to telephone calls or correspondence
received by post.

Should you wish to contact us please do so via email
at [1][email address].

Yours sincerely
 
 
Information Governance Team
 
 
 
Notice to recipient: The information contained in this electronic mail
message is intended only for the use of the individual to whom it is
addressed and may contain information which is privileged and
confidential, the disclosure of which is prohibited by law.   If the
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References

Visible links
1. mailto:[email address]

 
 
 
 
 
Freedom of Information request
Our reference: 2189365
Your reference: [FOI #520868 email]

show quoted sections

Dear Brighton and Hove City Council,

Whilst I appreciate the issues which have added to the delay, I would like a response in due course

Yours sincerely,
Nigel Smith