Policy ENV14: Pollution

Open22 Jan, 2024, 10:00am - 4 Mar, 2024, 11:59pm

Policy ENV14:  Pollution

In order to address the council’s climate emergency and ecological emergency declarations, development will be permitted provided it does not contribute to, and is not adversely affected by, pollution[1] that is detrimental to quality of life[2], or that poses unacceptable risks to health or the natural environment. Development should help to improve local environmental conditions unless this is not viably or technically possible.

Development that would result in unavoidable pollution will only be permitted where measures to adequately mitigate these polluting effects can be implemented.

Development which is sensitive[3] to pollution will only be permitted where:

  1. There would be no detrimental impact on quality of life as a result of existing, historic, or nearby land uses and activities; and
  2. It would not lead to unacceptable risks to human health or the natural environment, as a result of existing, historic, or nearby land uses and activities; or
  3. Adequate remedial or mitigation measures are proposed and can be implemented.
7.99 Pollution erodes the quality of the natural environment and can negatively impact on human health and local economic growth. The quality of the built environment is one of the primary factors that can influence the wider determinants of physical and mental health. Pollution can be a significant consideration with regard to new development, whether it is pollution that may arise from the proposed development, or development which is sensitive to pollution. The consequences of pollution in these scenarios is that harm to human health or quality of life may arise if there is exposure to it.
7.100 The purpose of this policy is to ensure that where pollution is a reasonably foreseeable consideration, the approach to investigating these concerns is consistent. Where there is likely to be some pollution related impact, quantifying this is vital to determining whether or not proposed development could be acceptable or not, or how it may impact the design of the scheme.
7.101 Development should not give rise to significant adverse impacts on health and quality of life such as through artificial light, odour or noise and areas of tranquillity should be protected. Development should, wherever possible, help to improve local environmental conditions such as air and water quality, taking into account relevant information, including the latest legislation and any successors. In assessing and considering the acceptability of proposed development, and where pollution would be caused by the development, or where the development would be sensitive to pollution, all information relating to the likely impacts should accompany any application for development. The absence of sufficient supporting information may lead to an application being refused.


7.102 Noise sources that are often relevant to development proposals and subsequent impact may include, traffic (road, rail and air), the use of mechanical (fixed or mobile) plant associated with industrial, commercial activities and premises, or other miscellaneous noise sources e.g. associated with an industrial activity. Should development give rise to, or be sensitive to, noise from one or more of the examples noted above, its impact must be assessed in line with current recognised methods and guidance. The council has published a technical guidance note in relation to noise assessments which details when a noise impact assessment is likely to be needed. This could be where noise would be caused by the proposed development, or the proposed development would be exposed to existing noise sources.

Air Quality

7.103 Concerns surrounding air quality and its potential impact on health primarily stem from situations where proposed development would be located near busy and congested roads. However, it also relates to situations where odour is associated with particular commercial, industrial, agricultural or sewage related activities which may affect quality of life.
7.104 In assessing the potential impact of air quality on development, or on air quality from development, developers must consider whether their proposal would introduce a sensitive use to an area of poor air quality, or whether their proposal would lead to deterioration in air quality.
7.105 An issue which is particularly significant with regard to air quality is in relation to schools. It is vital to ensure that air quality around schools is not detrimental to the health of children, parents and teachers, and therefore it will be important to ensure that new development which involves new school provision is designed in a manner which ensures that air quality impacts are successfully minimised.
7.106 The council will continue to monitor the latest guidance on air quality and proposals should be in accordance with the latest legislation.

Contaminated Land

7.107 Ground contamination becomes a material consideration when proposed development may contribute to, or expose receptors[4] to, unacceptable levels of contamination which gives rise to risks to health or other adverse impacts. Contamination may exist due to past uses of the land, and it is vital that these do not impact upon receptors.
7.108 Where a site is affected by contamination the responsibility for securing a safe development rests with the developer/land owner. Where there is a known historic use which is likely to have led to ground contamination, a staged investigation of the degree and likely impact of any contamination will be required upon submission of a development proposal. Ground contamination is not restricted to sites where there has been an obvious and potentially contaminating land use in the past. Often on sites that appear, or are thought to have had no particular historic use, contamination can be present.
7.109 Where any proposed development introduces a sensitive use to a development site, whether or not there has been a previous land use, in the first instance a Phase 1 desk top study and site reconnaissance will normally be required.

Light Pollution

7.110 Artificial lighting schemes whether proposed or existing are a consideration for new or existing residential development and can often give rise to unwanted impact (such as on local amenity, intrinsically dark landscape and nature conservation) and in the worst cases statutory nuisance. Schemes which propose the above will have to consider the potential impact in line with recognised industry methods and should conform to the recognised guides.
Implementation and Monitoring

The policy will be implemented by:

  • Advice on and the determination of planning applications by the local planning authority and the Environment Agency.

The policy will be monitored by:

  • Working in partnership with the Environment Agency
  • Annual monitoring.


[1] Pollution is defined as anything that affects the quality of air, water or soil, which might lead to an adverse impact on human health, the natural environment or general amenity. Pollution can arise from a range of emissions, including smoke, fumes, gases, dust, steam, odour, noise and light.

[2] This refers to those impacts which cannot be measured by health impacts. An example of this would include a reduction in the quality of residential amenity due to external factors e.g. unacceptable increases in noise levels

[3] This includes housing, hospitals, schools, residential care and nursing homes, parks and recreational spaces.

[4] A “receptor” is something that could be adversely affected by a contaminant, for example a person, an organism, an ecosystem, property, or controlled waters. (DEFRA, 2012).