Air quality - A51 reaseheath traffic due to roadworks

Air quality data in Nantwich and other towns was “deliberately manipulated” by Cheshire East Council for three years, a damning report concludes.

Cheshire East Council, which monitors nitrogen dioxide levels at around 100 sites, has been criticised over data inaccuracies submitted to Defra.

An external investigation was ordered last year after concerns were raised about data provided in 2012, 2013 and 2014.

And the conclusion of the investigation was unveiled today, accusing the council of “deliberate and systematic manipulation of data from a number of diffusion tubes” in those years.

It also states the council is guilty of “failings within the service to ensure adequate processes, procedures and systems were in place to manage this data effectively”.

As a result, wrong data was submitted to Defra in an annual statutory return, which will need to be corrected and published in the public domain.

And the errors may have impacted on Air Quality Assessments undertaken as part of planning applications for sites such as new housing developments.

The report says manipulation of data was spread over a wide geographical area, suggesting the motivation was “not to favour specific sites”.

The investigation also looked at planning applications where publication of revised air quality data may have affected planning decisions.

And it found those planning applications affected were in Nantwich, as well as Crewe , Sandbach, Holmes Chapel and Congleton.

Sean Hannaby, Cheshire East Council Director of Planning and Sustainable Development, said: “On behalf of the council, I would like to sincerely apologise in respect of these findings, we would like to assure everyone we have done everything we can to rectify these failings.

“It is worth reiterating that in July 2016, the then Director of Public Health assured us there are no immediate health protection measures needed as a result of these errors and I have been assured this advice still stands.

“We appreciate it has been a year now since we first reported these concerns, but it was important we ensured a thorough review and investigation into this important matter.

“Significant work has been undertaken to ensure there are now robust processes and procedures in place.

“The planning service is currently analysing the relevant planning applications to assess whether any additional mitigation measures are required.

“Our council website now contains the correct data and supporting information and our annual status report for both 2016 and 2017 containing the accurate data will be submitted to Defra within the next few weeks.

“Consideration is still being given as to the council’s response to the investigation’s findings in relation to any HR issues.”

5 Comments

  1. The crewe Green Roundabout extension was premised on false air quality data, and they only allowed between 21 and 26 July for comments. Coincidence, cock up or conspiracy?

  2. Sounds about right they do as they please but God help you if you put the wrong thing in your rubbish bin,total rubbish all-around

  3. How can this happen? This is fraud…

  4. Dave Smith says:

    Seems rather convenient that planning permission gets passed in areas where residents have clearly objected. The data is then manipulated with the outcome preordained.

    This is a matter for the police and/or serious fraud office. An internal investigation by the council is not acceptable.

    I wonder which of those corrupt council officials have lined their pockets to manipulate the data on behalf of the builders.

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