Air, Noise and Water Quality
The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy publishes annual estimates of carbon dioxide emissions for local authorities and regions. Carbon Dioxide (CO²) is the main greenhouse gas, accounting for about 80 per cent of the UK greenhouse gas emissions in 2019.
- Between 2005 and 2019, estimated CO² levels in Somerset fell by 32% (see Chart 3)
- This was a smaller decrease than that experienced across England (36%) and the South West (35%)
- The latest annual fall in Somerset is largely attributable to declines in industrial and domestic emissions.
- Emissions per head of population is above average in Somerset, but this is fairly typical of more rural counties (see Chart 2)
- In 2019 the sector with the highest emissions was Transport, with 39% .
Source: Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Bathing Water Quality
Water quality at designated bathing water sites in England is assessed by the Environment Agency. From May to September, weekly assessments measure current water quality, and Annual ratings classify each site as excellent, good, sufficient or poor based on measurements taken over a period of up to four years.
See the map below for the seven locations in Somerset, and their 2019 classifications for bathing water quality. (Note: classifications were not made for the 2020 season due to the impact of COVID-19)
A water sample indicates the quality of the water at that specific time, but water can change even over the course of one day, therefore at several sites daily Pollution Risk Forecasts (PFRs) are issued. PRFs are predicted based on several factors, including rainfall, wind, tides and seasonality. These forecasts are not issued for all sites; some have water quality that is consistently high, and others are affected by sources too complex to predict. In Somerset 6 out of the 7 designated bathing water sites are suitable for PRFs. Burnham Jetty North is not eligible as it has been assigned ‘Permanent advice against bathing’. This is due to its location at the mouth of two rivers, the Brue and the Parrett, which influence the quality of the water to the extent that bathing quality cannot be guaranteed.
During the 2021 bathing season (May-Sept) 3 of the Somerset sites had no PRF warnings issued: Porlock Weir, Berrow and Brean. Of the remaining 3, Dunster Beach had the most, with 47 daily ‘Advice against bathing’ warnings issued.
For more data on these sites and others around the English coast, see the Environment Agency website.
As an ‘invisible threat’, noise pollution can easily be overlooked. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) noise can cause a number of long and short-term health problems, both physical and mental. WHO defines noises above 65 decibels (dB) as noise pollution, and common causes include traffic, construction, aircraft and even animals, such as barking dogs.
Noise mapping is required under the Environmental Noise (England) Regulations 2006 (as amended), these regulations implement the Environmental Noise Directive (END) in England. Every 5 years DEFRA is required to create noise maps and draw up action plans based on the results of the mapping to manage environmental noise and its effects, amongst other actions.
The Public Health Outcomes Framework, published by Public Health England, evaluates the general health and wellbeing of an area, and includes several indicators on noise. According to the 2019/20 data on the rate of complaints about noise (crude rate per 1,000), Somerset has one of the lowest rates in the South West, with approximately 2.6 complaints per 1,000. (see Chart 4)
In Somerset in 2016 an estimated 3.2% of the population were exposed to road, rail and air transport noise of 65 dB(A) during the daytime and 5.1% were exposed to 55 dB(A) during the night-time. (The units dB(A) are decibels adjusted to reflect the ear's response to different frequencies of sound)
SOURCE: Public Health England