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£250k for new air monitoring project

£250k for new air monitoring project

Wednesday 24 November 2021

£250k for new air monitoring project


The Environment Minister has said that he has proposed funding for a new air quality monitoring system, estimated to cost around £250,000.

Deputy John Young said the new project could be funded through an amendment to the Government plan, and that a business plan had been created for it.

Responding to a question from Constable Mike Jackson in the States Assembly this week, who observed that "little work seems to have been done with regard to air quality monitoring," the Minister outlined his department's future plans.

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Pictured: Environment Minister Deputy John Young said that a funding proposal for a new project had been asked for.

"The Constable will know how disappointed I was that what was a great idea to do this sandbox project with Digital Jersey has not succeeded," he said, referring to the island's previous air quality monitoring project done in collaboration with UK company AirSensa, where 46 monitors were installed for free around the island's schools starting in 2019.

"I’ve met with Digital Jersey, I’ve met with others, we’ve now launched a new project where we can… we’re buying some kit, we can do some immediate improvement in monitoring - an alternative plan - but I think in order to do the whole job and do it properly, I’ve put forward, I’ve asked for a proposal of funding to go through the system.

"The two routes... it can either be done through amendment to the Government plan, which I think I’ve suggested to the Connetable, I’ve sent him the papers, I’ve given him all the information, the business plan for that is available.

"But I’m afraid these tasks do need decent resources - £250,000 is the estimate for that."

The initial project to install monitors around the island in collaboration with AirSensa saw 58 placed around the island, 46 of which were at schools - a smaller figure than the initial target of 300 established in 2019.

By April of this year, 24 were not working, before it more recently emerged that the number of faulty units had increased, leaving only two in schools working.

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Pictured: It was recently stated that only two air quality monitors placed at Jersey schools were working out of 46. 

However, the reason for the project falling apart has been disputed between the Government and AirSensa.

Deputy Young told the States Assembly earlier this month that the "pieces of equipment weren't robust enough" for the island, that "high winds and salt spray" on the island had been cited as a key obstacle, and that they had to "agree to disagree" on future funding.

"I understand that the contractor, or at least the firm is looking for a payment of £160,000, there was never a contract signed in order to be able to sort this out and my view is that we should do this properly, and to do it properly, we should restart the project," he said. 

When these comments were put to AirSensa CEO Jonathan Steel though, he said he was "disappointed" with the Minister's position, and that "the equipment worked perfectly well on installation and for most of the time since then and the units are not influenced by weather. We have never commented on high winds and salt spray, or said that we 'couldn't get them to work'."

He added: "Because we have not been able to make progress with Government on a commitment to the project, we can't continue to fund the project on our own so have taken most of the monitors offline to avoid delivering bad data.

"The situation is especially disappointing because up to the advent of Covid the project was going exceptionally well and, having invested over £250k in the project to date, it is a pity."

He further stated how their "CTO Gary Barnett would be delighted to come over to Jersey and hold an open meeting to discuss the project; we would also be happy to meet with government and help them to understand the situation."

READ MORE...

School air monitoring project in doubt amid costs row

44 out of 46 school air monitors not working

Nearly half of island's 'real time' air monitoring devices do not work

All schools to get air quality monitors

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