Environment

The environment has a significant effect on health and wellbeing.  High quality environments have a key part in helping people to live healthier and happier lives. Environmental problems such as noise, air pollution, food safety, pest control and contaminated land can have a significant impact on individual and population health.  Climate change continues to pose significant future risks to human health if actions are not taken now both to reduce carbon emissions and reduce energy demands to sustainable levels.

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Last updated: 2017-09-29 13:27:25
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1. What are the key issues?

Hartlepool’s environment needs to be improved in terms of tackling derelict land and buildings; making streets safer, cleaner and greener; and developing, maintaining and improving green spaces, parks and recreational areas.

If climate change is to be tackled, then greenhouse gas emissions need to be reduced and Hartlepool needs to prepare for the anticipated impacts of climate change such as increased storm events; increased risks from pests and diseases; increased risk of food poisoning; and potentially higher rates of skin cancer.

Sea defences must be maintained to prevent major flooding in coastal areas.  Surface water flooding poses a threat to other areas of Hartlepool, and the likelihood and severity of such incidents will increase.

Four areas in Hartlepool are identified as important areas to develop noise action plans.  Six stretches of highway in Hartlepool have been identified as priority or important areas under the Environmental Noise Directive.  There are high levels of complaints about noise from domestic and commercial premises, building sites and road transport.

There are estimated to be 6,900 dwellings (21.2%) which contain households in fuel poverty within Hartlepool.  Improving the energy efficiency of existing homes will have significant health benefits and reduces greenhouse gas emissions.

There is a large demand for pest control treatments in Hartlepool.

 

Last updated: 03/09/13

2. What commissioning priorities are recommended?

2012/01
Create sustainable neighbourhoods
by bringing derelict land and buildings back into use; making streets safer, cleaner and greener; and developing, maintaining and improving green spaces, parks and recreational areas.

2012/02
Ensure that a proactive response to climate change is adopted in Hartlepool
by ensuring that buildings do not suffer from water ingress; raising awareness of the risks of skin cancer; planning and testing emergency responses to flooding.

2012/03
Tackle nuisance noise
by developing noise action plans in identified areas; tackling highways where noise is a problem; and ensure that noise investigation and enforcement services are maintained.

2012/04
Maintain air quality and reduce pollution
so that no Air Quality Management Areas are designated in Hartlepool.

2012/05
Ensure a decent standard of housing
by reinvigorating priority neighbourhoods with high quality design and construction of new homes, giving access to vulnerable groups; driving up standards in existing homes where a priority will be improving energy efficiency and providing affordable warmth products; and investing in property to enhance fuel efficiency.

2012/06
Provide an effective pest control service
to mitigate against pests which harbour diseases, bacteria and parasites.

2012/07
Ensure water quality
by sampling both drinking and bathing water (for example, in swimming pools, hydrotherapy/spa pools and Jacuzzis).

2012/08
Reduce work-related death, injury and ill-health
, ensuring that resources are focused on the areas which present the highest risk.  Management of asbestos, gas safety and cellar safety are identified as priority areas.

 

Last updated: 03/09/13

3. Who is at risk and why?

Age
Older people are at increased risk of death in winter months compared to other times of year and other age groups.  Fuel poverty and a lack of affordable warmth affects older people more than other age groups and contributes towards excess winter deaths.

The people most at risk from the effects of air pollution are the very young, older people and those who already have a predisposing illness which air pollution can exacerbate.  People with asthma are particularly at risk during episodes of high air pollution levels.  One in eleven children and one in twelve adults in the UK suffer from asthma (Asthma UK, 2010).  In certain situations it is possible that air pollution plays a part in the induction of asthma in some individuals who live near busy roads, particularly roads carrying high numbers of heavy goods vehicles (Committee on the Medical Effects of Air Pollution, 2010).

Socioeconomic status
It is estimated that climate change will have a disproportionate impact on disadvantaged, vulnerable and deprived groups compared to the rest of the population.  The following health impacts of climate change for the UK are identified (Health Effects of Climate Change in the UK, 2008, DH):

  • heat-related health problems and worsening air quality, causing increased pollution-related illness and deaths;
  • increased risk of contaminated drinking water, water-borne infections and exposure to toxic pollutants;
  • increased prevalence of food poisoning and water-borne disease linked to warmer weather;
  • increased rates of sunburn and skin cancer;
  • social disruption, injury, disability and death as a consequence of extreme weather-related events such as hurricanes and river, coastal and flash floods.

Noise can cause annoyance, interfere with communication and sleep, cause fatigue and damage hearing. Physiological effects of exposure to noise include constriction of blood vessels, tightening of muscles, increased heart rate and blood pressure and changes to stomach and abdomen movement. Occupational noise can lead to temporary or permanent hearing loss.  Noise is reported to be responsible for 3% of ischaemic heart disease in the UK, for 3% of tinnitus and causes a rise in stress hormones leading to increased risk of strokes, heart attacks and reduced immune system (WHO, 2011b). The same report says 2% of Europeans suffer severely disturbed sleep and 15% can suffer severe annoyance. People living near busy roads and those with noisy neighbours are most at risk, including the most vulnerable such as housebound, the already sick (who’s condition could be worsened), the young and elderly.  Noise proliferates in areas of deprivation where houses are most densely populated and more likely to be near busy roads.

Reports on the medical effects of air quality suggest that the short-term impact results in the premature death of between 12,000-14,000 vulnerable people in the UK each year and between 14,000-24,000 hospital admissions /readmissions per year. Air quality is one of the government’s 68 indicators in the Sustainable Development Strategy. People in poorer areas tend to live close to pollution sources including busy roads and industrial sites.

Air quality
Air pollution is a major environmental risk to health. By reducing air pollution levels, the burden of disease from respiratory infections, heart disease, and lung cancer can be reduced (WHO, 2011a).

In cities, people inside vehicles are exposed to greater levels of fine particulate matter and carbon monoxide concentrations than cyclists and pedestrians (Kaur et al, 2007).  However, due to increased respiration and longer travel time, pedestrians and especially cyclists may inhale greater concentrations of pollution over the course of their journey – except when they are able to use walk/cycle paths away from motorised traffic (Dirks et al, 2012).

The Lancet series ‘The health benefits of tackling climate change’ (2009) documented the benefits of reducing emissions such as the reduction of motor vehicle use through more walking and cycling.  This will not only diminish transport emissions but reduce obesity, lower the rate of chronic diseases caused by physical inactivity and lessen the health-damaging effects of air pollution.

Contaminated land
Contaminated land poses risks to both human health and the environment depending on the types and volumes of pollutants present at particular sites.

Pest control
Infestations by pests can affect everyone, but tend to affect disadvantaged populations more due to poorer housing conditions, improper storage of food waste and cleanliness.  About 80% of mild or moderate asthmatic children have a positive allergy skin test to cockroach and dust mite allergens.  Rats can spread several diseases (for example, salmonellosis, leptospirosis, and typhus) and carry mites and lice. Rats, mice, cockroaches and bedbugs can be a source of anxiety, affecting mental health and wellbeing (WHO, 2008).

Energy efficiency
Climate change is, in large part, driven by emissions of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide. To reduce emissions will require a level of energy efficiency in homes and buildings that is currently uncommon in the UK.  Major policy changes on new buildings, and incentives to modify existing buildings, plus a large shift to strategic and local renewable energy generation and smart power grids is required.

Green space
Access to the natural environment and other open spaces has significant benefits for health and wellbeing, by reducing stress, improving mental well-being and encouraging greater levels of physical activity across all age groups. Safe, green spaces have the potential to increase communal activity in different social groups, increase residents’ satisfaction with their local area and improve air and noise quality. Open space provision also acts to mitigate climate change, reducing the impacts of flooding and heat waves and reducing CO2 emissions.

The frequency of visits to open space declines significantly with increasing distance from the open space, with the exception of young people. There is a statistically significant decrease in the likelihood of achieving physical activity recommendations and an increase in the likelihood of being overweight or obese associated with increasing distance to formal green space (Natural England, 2011).

 

Last updated: 03/09/13

4. What is the level of need in the population?

Energy efficiency and home energy conservation
An estimated 11,300 dwellings in Hartlepool (34.8% of the stock) are classed as non-decent.  The majority of dwellings are non-decent because of Category 1 hazards (18.5%) and thermal comfort failure (15.4%).  In Hartlepool non-decent dwellings are most associated with low rise, purpose built flats, the private-rented sector and properties built before 1919.  Non decency is also associated with heads of households aged 16 to 24 and those aged over 75.  The Central sub-area has 44.1% of dwellings classed as non-decent.  The total requirement for repair in all dwellings that fail under the repair criterion of the Decent Homes Standard is £21.2 million, an average cost of £4,500 per dwelling.

Fuel poverty and affordable warmth
A fuel poor household is one which cannot afford to keep adequately warm at reasonable cost. This is defined as when a household needs to spend more than 10% of its disposable income to adequately heat the home.  There are estimated to be 6,900 (21.2%) households in fuel poverty in Hartlepool (Private Sector House Condition Survey, 2009), significantly above the 11.5% found in the English House Condition Survey, 2006.  The highest rate of fuel poverty was found in the Central sub-area at 25.8% followed by the South sub-area at 19.1%.  Average energy efficiency in Hartlepool, using the Government’s Standard Assessment Procedure (SAP), is 51 (on a scale of 1 to 100), slightly higher than the England average of 49.

Pest control
In 2011/12, there were 1,323 requests for pest control treatments in Hartlepool.

Noise
DEFRA has identified four areas in Hartlepool which they classify as Important Areas for Noise Action Plans.

There continues to be high levels of complaints about noise emanating from domestic and commercial premises, building sites and road transport.

There are currently 6 stretches of highway in Hartlepool that have been identified as priority or important areas under the Environmental Noise Directive. The national noise action plan requires the highways authority to implement an action plan to reduce the levels of traffic noise at each of these locations.

Water quality
Hartlepool Water supplies around 33 million litres of water to 90,000 people in Hartlepool, including the surrounding villages of Greatham, Dalton Piercy, Elwick, Hart and Wynyard. Northumbrian Water Ltd supplies the village of Newton Bewley.

In addition to public water supplies, Hartlepool Council monitors the water quality of 5 swimming pools and 5 hydrotherapy/spa pools.

Working environment
Hartlepool Council is responsible for enforcement of health and safety legislation in approximately 1,300 premises, primarily comprising offices, shops, hotels and catering and leisure activities.  During 2011/12, 16 visits were made to investigate work-related accidents and 64 following requests for health and safety service.  In 2009/10, there were 59 major injuries in Hartlepool, an increase from 54 in 2008/9 (Health and Safety Executive).

 

Last updated: 03/09/13

5. What services are currently provided?

The following services are delivered to address environment-related priorities, and incorporate a range of reactive and proactive measures:

  • Neighbourhood management – Neighbourhood Area Teams provide day-to-day environmental and amenity maintenance of the highway and other public areas, including services such as street cleansing, grounds maintenance, minor repairs to street lights, footpaths and highways.
  • Waste and environmental services – Provide waste and recycling services including household and trade refuse, recycling and bulky waste collection.  The team promotes waste minimisation and offers a subsidised home compost bin service.  In addition, environmental action and enforcement services are provided.
  • Regeneration and planning services – Provide consultancy and enforcement services on aspects of building and development control, including a planning advisory service (one-stop-shop and access to the Government’s online planning portal).  The service ensures that buildings in Hartlepool meet building regulations and regulates the impact of new development on its surroundings.  Other services include encouraging occupancy and improvements to vacant commercial properties; Seaton Carew regeneration master planning; Hartlepool’s built heritage (comprising over 200 listed buildings and 8 conservation areas); Hartlepool’s ecology, including Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI’s), local wildlife sites and nature reserves; arboriculture including advice and information on trees in conservation areas, tree preservation orders and planning considerations with regard to trees and high hedges legislation; planning policy including preparation and adoption of the Local Plan for Hartlepool and links including Neighbourhood Planning.


The Public Protection section of Hartlepool Borough Council consists of three discrete teams:

  • The Commercial Team carries out inspections, complaint investigation and sampling to ensure that food is safe and fit to eat and that workplaces are safe.
  • The Environmental Protection Team is involved with noise and pollution-related matters, pest control and managing and promoting the open market.
  • The Trading Standards & Licensing Team ensures that the business sector complies with a wide range of trade and consumer legislation. The team also issues and carries out enforcement relating to a large variety of licences, including alcohol, entertainment, takeaways, taxis, gambling and fireworks.


Climate Change
Information on low-carbon living is available on the Council website Smarter Living page.

The Energy Saving Trust is a national organisation that provides advice and information on energy efficiency and carbon reduction.

Feed in Tariffs and the Renewable Heat Incentive offer financial incentives for renewable energy installations, such as solar photovoltaic panels and heat pumps.

The Green Deal is a Government scheme introduced in 2013 that provides low interest loans for energy efficiency projects such as insulation and renewable energy installations.  The guiding principle of the Green Deal will be that savings on energy bills will be sufficient to meet loan repayments, so there will be no extra financial outlay for the recipient.

The Environment Agency offers a free Flood Alert service to residents and businesses.  Once subscribed, any flood alerts that may impact upon the resident or business are communicated via text message or email, so that action can be taken (for example, sand bags, water pumps).

Registered providers in Hartlepool are investigating photovoltaic systems (these use daylight to generate electricity for use in the property) for their stock.

The Community Energy Saving Programme (CESP) is another Government initiative to improve energy efficiency and reduce household bills.  CESP is an obligation on the bigger gas and electricity suppliers to deliver energy saving measures to households.  The programme specifically targets areas of low income using the Indices of Multiple Deprivation (IMD).  Homes owned by Tees Valley Housing in Hartlepool are being improved through this programme. However, this programme ended in December 2012.

The emerging Core Strategy also has a requirement for a minimum of 10% of the energy on new housing developments (of 10 dwellings or more) to be supplied from decentralised and renewable or low carbon sources.


Housing services
Regional loans assists owner-occupiers and private landlords to undertake essential home improvements which help improve residents’ long-term health and wellbeing and maintain their independence.

Financial assistance for empty property owners is delivered in partnership with Housing Hartlepool to help landlords to bring long-term empty properties back into use through a lease and repair model.

Selective licensing operates in 6 designated areas for privately rented dwelling houses.

Landlord accreditation is a voluntary scheme for landlords which aims to improve management and conditions in private rented housing.

Housing regeneration support services, which included empty properties, highlight the significant needs and numbers of vulnerable households.

Noise, air pollution and pest control
Public protection provide a wide range of services including:

  • inspections & investigation of complaints in relation to noise control
  • air pollution control
  • air quality management
  • pest control.


‘Out of Hours’ Noise Patrol – Hartlepool Borough Council currently operates a late night service at weekends that responds to complaints about excessive noise nuisance. The service operates between June and August.

Water quality
Public Protection Officers, currently:

  • sample the public drinking water supply for bacteriological and chemical quality.
  • sample private water used for commercial food production purposes.
  • monitor the water in commercial bathing and leisure facilities, such as swimming pools, hydrotherapy/spa pools and Jacuzzis.


Working environment
Health and safety interventions are carried out including inspections, campaign visits, investigations into reported work-related accidents and complaints. These visits frequently focus on topics such as management of asbestos, gas and electrical safety, slips, trips and falls and working at height.

 

Last updated: 03/09/13

6. What is the projected level of need?

Climate change
Average temperatures in North East England are expected to increase.  Average annual rainfall is expected to increase, and much of this will fall during extreme weather, leading to an increase in the risk of flooding.

Fuel poverty and affordable warmth
The level of fuel poverty in Hartlepool is forecast to increase for several years due to rising fuel prices and prevailing economic conditions.

Noise
The public is becoming more aware of noise and the expectation of a quieter environment has increased in recent years. It is predicted that the number of complaints about noise will increase over the next few years.

 

Last updated: 03/09/13

7. What needs might be unmet?

An average of 50 additional people die each winter in Hartlepool. Their needs for more appropriate housing and care may contribute to this.

 

Last updated: 03/09/13

8. What evidence is there for effective intervention?

Reducing particulate matter (PM10) pollution from 70 to 20 micrograms per cubic metre can cut deaths related to air quality by around 15% (WHO, 2005).

 

Last updated: 03/09/13

9. What do people say?

In 2010, 26% of people living in Hartlepool cited that improvements to the environment were required to improve their quality of life.  This was highlighted as one of the key priorities alongside Crime and Community Safety.  This primarily encompassed the general appearance of the area, litter and rubbish, dog fouling and run down, empty or boarded up properties. 

Two-thirds of people (68%) were satisfied with public parks and spaces, but this is a reduction on satisfaction in previous surveys.  An increasing proportion of residents say that poor quality parks and open spaces are a problem in their area.

In the Household Survey in 2010, up to one-quarter of residents said that derelict buildings are a particular issue within the coastal and central areas of Hartlepool.

The Ward Councillor consultation in 2012 included the following:

  • Create safer and more sustainable neighbourhoods by decreasing levels of anti-social behaviour, litter (including drug-related) and dog fouling and improve road safety by traffic calming and management measures.
  • Improve access to public transport and ensure services are fit for the needs of the population.
  • Provide accessible and quality green spaces and facilities for local people (including young people).
  • Address key vacant buildings and land that are currently detrimental to adjacent neighbourhoods.
  • Promote partnership working to ensure effective and efficient service delivery in environmental management.



Climate change
A range of climate change questions were included in the Council’s Viewpoint survey in 2010, with the following findings:

  • 98% of respondents were aware of climate change;
  • 76% of respondents claim to know ‘a great deal’ or ‘a fair amount’ about climate change;
  • 14 % claimed to be unconcerned about climate change;
  • 5% are not willing to make lifestyle changes to help tackle climate change; and
  • 59% of respondents are fearful for the wellbeing of future generations as a result of climate change.  Only 14% are not fearful.  The remainder were unsure.


Wide ranging consultation was undertaken during the development of Hartlepool’s Housing Strategy 2011-2015. The main themes emerging from consultation that link with the environment were:

  • Sustainable communities – reducing anti-social behaviour, preventing homelessness.
  • Sustainable / environmental homes – installing solar panels, feed-in tariffs.
  • Affordability – rents; cost to buy homes; cost to build / renovate homes; financial inclusion / fuel poverty.
  • Making links between housing, health, education, planning and transport services.
  • Dealing with empty homes and how to drive demand.
  • Effective management of the private-rented sector and use of enforcement powers.



The Council’s Viewpoint panel in 2008 found:

  • 93% considered rubbish to be a big or fairly big problem in the town centre,
  • 82% thought people vomiting or urinating in public was a big or fairly big problem,
  • 68% thought noise from people leaving pubs and clubs was a big or fairly big problem.

 

Last updated: 03/09/13

10. What additional needs assessment is required?

Explore investment opportunities for public realm initiatives, improvement of green open spaces and derelict land and buildings.

 

Last updated: 03/09/13

Key contact

Name: Denise Ogden

Job title: Assistant Director (Neighbourhood Services)

e-mail: denise.ogden@hartlepool.gov.uk

Phone number: (01429) 523201

 

References

Local strategies and plans

Hartlepool Borough Council (2010). Neighbourhood Management and Empowerment Strategy.

Hartlepool Borough Council (2007). Climate Change Strategy 2007-2012.

Tees Valley Unlimited (2010). Climate Change Strategy 2010 to 2020.

Tees Catchment Flood Management Plan, 2009.

Tees Valley Air Quality Report 2011.

Tees Valley Green Infrastructure Strategy, 2008.

 

National strategies and plans

Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC, 2011). Fuel Poverty Strategy

DECC (2010). Warm Homes, Greener Homes.

Environment Agency (2011). National flood and coastal erosion risk management strategy for England.

UK Renewable Energy Strategy, 2009.

Environment Agency (2009). Water resources strategy for England and Wales.

 

Other references

Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (2008).  The Impact of Climate Change on Pest Populations and Public Health.

Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (2009). The Role of Pest Management in Protecting Public Health.

Climate UK (2012). UK Climate Change Risk Assessment: North East Summary.

Committee on the Medical Effects of Air Pollution

Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC, 2012). Getting the measure of fuel poverty: final report of the fuel poverty review.

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA, 2009). UK Climate projections.

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA, 2012). UK Climate Change Risk Assessment.

Department of Health (DH, 2008). The Health Impact of Climate Change: Promoting Sustainable Communities.

Environment Agency (2012). Flood Maps.

Faculty of Public Health and Natural England (2010). Great Outdoors: How our Natural Health Service Uses Green Space to Improve Well-being.

Health Protection Agency (2008). Health Effects of Climate Change in the UK.

Natural England (2011). Green Space Access, Green Space Use, Physical Activity and Overweight.

UKCIP (formerly UK Climate Impacts Programme)

West Midlands Public Health Observatory (2010). Excess Winter Deaths (EWD) in England.

World Health Organization (WHO, 2005). Air quality guidelines - global update 2005.

World Health Organization (WHO, 2008). The Public Health Significance of Urban Pests.

World Health Organization (WHO, 2011a). Air quality and health - Fact sheet 313.

World Health Organization (WHO, 2011b). Burden of disease from environmental noise.