Tackling damaging vehicle emissions in South Oxfordshire

Released on February 8, 2016

Vehicle emissions in South Oxfordshire could be damaging to the health of residents in three of its towns.

Air quality experts have recommended a range of actions that could reduce emissions in the problem areas and across the district as a whole – and South Oxfordshire District Council wants to know what residents and local businesses think.

The South Oxfordshire towns with the biggest problems are Wallingford, Watlington and Henley. Some of the actions the experts are proposing are specific to two of these towns.

In Wallingford, the experts have said that restricting certain types of traffic from using the bridge into town at certain times of day would significantly improve the air quality in the town centre. This is similar to the successful part-time traffic restrictions at the bottom of the High Street in Oxford.

In Watlington, the experts have said that preventing larger vehicles from spending so much time stationary in the town would significantly improve the air quality, and they’ve recommended that preventing people from parking their cars on two town centre streets will help to keep larger vehicles moving and reduce harmful emissions.

Residents who want to read and comment on what the air quality experts have recommended can find out more at www.southoxon.gov.uk/lowemissions – the consultation runs until 25 March.

Cllr Tony Harbour, cabinet member for Environmental Health at South Oxfordshire District Council, said: “Whilst some people might be worried about the inconvenience of some part-time restrictions on traffic over the bridge in Wallingford, I’m sure there are also people who use the town centre who would be grateful to see fewer vehicles using it thinking it’s a shortcut – we really don’t know where the weight of public opinion is on this, which is why we’re asking people to comment on these ideas.”

“It’s a serious issue. There are places, like Wallingford and Watlington where it’s a toss-up between convenience and health, and we really need to know what people think.”

The actions the experts have recommended are explained in detail in their proposed Low Emissions Strategy for South Oxfordshire. This is not an action plan – the district council needs to know what residents think of the ideas before investigating further if and how they could be implemented. The district council doesn’t have the powers to implement most of the actions itself, and would have to work with other organisations like the county council if any of the actions are to be put in place.