Traffic is causing high levels of chemical pollution on the Ashdown Forest.
A new report states that in places the levels are “above critical”.
Wealden District Council has published comprehensive reports regarding current and future air quality for Ashdown Forest – plus the Pevensey Levels and Lewes Downs.
All three are European protected Special Areas of Conservation with the latter being located within Lewes District.
Wealden Local Plan
These reports are a key stage in the progress of the Wealden Local Plan and will contribute to the Habitats Regulation Assessment.
Cllr Ann Newton, Cabinet Member for Planning and Development, said:
“One of the key factors impacting on the progress of the Wealden Local Plan is the impact of air pollution on the Ashdown Forest and other relevant Special Areas of Conservation.
“Significant work has been undertaken in the last three years to monitor air quality and ecology on Ashdown Forest.
“The work also includes modelling future traffic flows arising from proposed development within the Wealden Local Plan and identifying nitrogen deposition and other pollutants on Ashdown Forest as a result of growth.”
Cllr Newton continued: “What we are publishing relates to air quality and the deposition of nitrogen and other pollutants.
“The ecology elements relating to Ashdown Forest, Pevensey Levels and Lewes Downs are being worked on in conjunction with Natural England and our consultants and should be with us by the end of the year to feed into the Habitats Regulation Assessment for the Local Plan.”
The report for the Ashdown Forest concludes that nitrogen deposition, ammonia and nitrogen dioxide concentrations within the forest are above critical levels and loads in many places, likely as a result of emissions from road traffic.
The next stage for Wealden District Council will be to consider this report as part of its Wealden Local Plan Habitats Regulation Assessment as well as consider any additional information such as that relating to the ecological monitoring.
The reports for the Pevensey Levels and Lewes Downs conclude that under some scenarios nitrogen dioxide concentrations, nitrogen deposition and ammonia concentrations are being exceeded. The next stage will be to assess the ecological impact with input from Natural England alongside their input on the Air Quality reports, to determine if an Appropriate Assessment in these areas is required
Wealden District Council will continue to work closely with Natural England and with air quality and ecological consultants to complete all aspects of the work and to understand the need and actions required in order to meet the requirements of the Habitats Directive and Regulations.
Wealden District Council has placed planning controls on the building of new homes around the Ashdown Forest to try and mitigate pollution on the forest.
To divert people away from the forest, particularly dog walkers, the 1,000 new homes planned for Ridgewood Farm, Uckfield, will have a new park on the opposite side of the by-pass at Little Horsted..
It will be linked to the new estate by an underpass.
The three air quality reports are available here (external link)
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