TWO Conservative councillors are calling for talks between key organisations about air quality and reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the Ribble Valley.

They say the district’s emissions are the largest of any Lancashire borough, with the cement industry, farming and traffic among the sources.

Bosses at Ribblesdale Cement Works at Clitheroe say emisssions have been cut amid a £30m plus investment programme.

Borough Tory councillor Kevin Horkin and County Cllr Ged Mirfin have made air quality recommendations, including a summit with councils, scientists and doctors, and highways and environmental health officers.

They also want more air monitoring locations near homes and roads, and consideration of village bypasses to re-route heavy vehicles.

Their report states: "Greenhouse gas emissions in the Ribble Valley represent 11.6 per cent of the total emitted across the 14 Lancashire authorities . This is the second-highest percentage total ever, which represents a progressive deterioration over the last four years. The figures have hardly improved in percentage contribution over the last 17 years.”

The councillors say since 2011 there has been an additional 9,568 cars on Ribble Valley roads, citing factors like commuting, HGVS and commercial vans. Farming is another contributor, they say.

Around 7.6 per cent of people in the borough have asthma, they report, against a county average of 7.4 per cent.

They want to expand ‘active’ and ‘passive monitoring’ of air quality using continuous ambient monitoring systems or discontinuous diffusion tubes, where contents are captured  then analysed in a laboratory.

Air monitoring should be done outside Clitheroe in Whalley and Longridge on large housing developments near main roads, along with some villages and sparsely-populated rural areas, they insist.

Cllr Horkin said: “This is an ideal time to bring all parties and well-informed professionals around the table for the first time. They could focus on this vital issue, ask critical questions and make recommendations about feasible  outcomes for more improvements

Cllr Mirfin, who has breathing issues, added: “As the Prime Minister said recently,  we stand at a tipping-point. Big questions are being asked about air quality and greenhouse gas emissions. The answers should not all come from the top-down."

Councillors say Clitheroe’s Ribblesdale cement works is  a significant contributor to emissions

But plant manager Gary Young said: “Safety and environmental performance are key priorities for us, and we take our responsibility to mitigate the impact of our operations extremely seriously. We work closely with our regulator, the Environment Agency, and our activity is continuously monitored and audited on a regular basis.”

Bosses say the Ribblesdale cement kiln has used a mix of net-zero fuels, as part of a ‘world first demonstration project’ with hydrogen technology. This could save 180,000 tonnes of CO2 per year at the Clitheroe site.

Further investments have included a £2m replacement of cement mill dust filters. The plant is also currently looking at full replacement of the kiln main filters, which would further cut emissions and finalise more than £30m of investment in environmental improvements there since 2018.

Borough environmental health head Andrew Dent, said the council was duty-bound under environmental legislation to monitor air quality.

He added: "The council’s air quality annual status Report 2023 has been approved by (the government) and can be viewed on the council’s website.”