Ashdown Forest air quality monitoring project now under way

Ecus measures air quality impact on Ashdown Forest

A detailed vegetation and air-quality study is under way to assess current and future impacts of air quality on the Ashdown Forest.
The monitoring is being undertaken by the Basingstoke office of environmental consultancy Ecus on behalf of Wealden District Council.
The study aims to determine the effect of atmospheric pollution associated with road traffic on the habitats within the Ashdown Forest Special Area of Conservation (SAC) over a number of years and will inform the council’s long-term planning strategy for the area. 
Large parts of Ashdown Forest have been SAC designated, in recognition of the internationally important nature of its vegetation.
Ecus is managing the project and undertaking vegetation monitoring, soil and plant sampling, and habitat monitoring, while Air Quality Consultants undertakes air quality monitoring.
The monitoring will take place along key road corridors within the forest, and the results will be analysed to identify the potential effects of atmospheric pollution and traffic on habitat and vegetation. 
The long-term project will run over a number of years to provide a reliable and comprehensive source of data. 
Chris John, technical director for ecology at Ecus, says the local authority is required to investigate the impacts of nitrogen upon the Ashdown Forest SAC and consider the potential effects of new development. ‘The overall purpose of the monitoring programme is to ensure that the council meets its duty under the European Habitats Directive with regards to the protection of Ashdown Forest SAC.’
The results of the monitoring programme, he says, will provide the council with information so that the effects of nitrogen deposition from both existing and future development can be more fully understood in the longer term. ‘This will allow the council to plan appropriately when developing its local plans and when assessing planning applications,’ he said


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