In response to concerns expressed by a number of environmental campaigners Sefton Council has recently produced a briefing note on this matter. You can read it below and my comments at the end.
Seaforth Docks and hinterland
This photo is amongst my Flickr shots at:-
The Council is currently undertaking an exercise to review the air quality impacts of port expansion and this will examine the impact of different modes of transporting cargo. This process involves modelling the air quality impacts of the increases in vehicle, train and ship movements associated with port expansion using an air pollution dispersion model supported by increased monitoring in the study area. The modelling will be undertaken by Council Officers although independent consultants have been appointed to advise on the modelling process and critically appraise the outcomes. Officers are also working closely with the consultants appointed by the Highways Agency, to advise on the options for improving access to the port, to examine the air quality implications of each option.
The statutory Local Air Quality Management, Review and Assessment process, which involves 3 yearly Updating and Screening Assessments and annual Progress Reports will continue and this will entail an ongoing review of levels of key pollutants, including nitrogen dioxide, particulate matter and sulphur dioxide, in line with Defra guidance.
With respect to ports, a Detailed Assessment for sulphur dioxide is only required for shipping using fuel with a sulphur content of greater than 1% and where there is residential exposure within 250m for ports with 5,000 – 15,000 ship movements per year or1km where there are more than 15,000 ship movements annually. The Harbour Master has confirmed that all vessels approaching the Port must not use marine fuel which has a sulphur content exceeding 0.10 %. There are no residential properties with 250m of the dock. When last reviewed the number of ship movements within the Sefton area of the port was below 15,000. The impact, and number, of ship movements is the subject of ongoing review under the Local Air Quality Management process, mentioned above, and will be modelled as part of the review of the impacts of port expansion. The impact of emissions from post Panamax vessels will be specifically considered.
The Council will be commissioning a health impact assessment of the port expansion that will incorporate the findings of the air quality study once complete. This will examine the impact on health of the port expansion as a whole including the increase in all types of cargo movements. Any significant health impact concerns arising from the assessment will then be considered for an appropriate approach to their mitigation.
The most significant source of air pollution locally is from road vehicle transport and the appropriate local measures to address sustainable transport and air pollution are delivered under the Liverpool City Region Local Transport Plan. The fourth Local Transport Plan is due to be published in April 2015 and the arrangements for stakeholder and public consultation have not been finalised yet. Those with concerns about transport related air pollution should take the opportunity to influence the development of this plan as it will determine how the available resources for sustainable transport are to be used for the next decade.
Port expansion and associated transport access is one of the stated strategic priorities of the Liverpool City Region Cabinet and Local Enterprise Partnership.
My view is that this is a huge environmental/health issue for the Bootle part of Sefton and along the transport corridors that carry goods to and from the docks at Seaforth. Getting the transportation links right is crucial but I fear there is too much going on behind the scenes about this. Little of any detail is available to the public and when I asked for such detail I was referred to a bland report produced in March this year which told me very little that I did not already know.