Council backs strategy to reduce vehicle emissions in South Oxfordshire
South Oxfordshire District Council has backed a strategy to tackle harmful vehicle emissions, including proposals for trials in two towns where air quality is poor.
The Low Emissions Strategy was given approval at a meeting of the full council last night (23 November) and sets out a wide range of measures to reduce emissions across the district, particularly where air quality is poor, including parts of Watlington and Wallingford.
It is based upon a specially-commissioned report by Ricardo Energy and Environment, funded by the government, and the Council will now explore with Oxfordshire County Council – the highways authority - whether some of the measures are viable and should be investigated further.
This includes proposals to trial an introduction of on-street parking restrictions in parts of Watlington to prevent traffic from clogging up in Couching and Shirburn streets, and to trial restricting access to Wallingford Bridge to certain vehicles at certain times of day.
Cllr Tony Harbour, Cabinet Member for Environmental Health at South Oxfordshire District Council, said: “We understand people may think some of these proposals seem quite drastic in relation to Watlington and Wallingford, but air quality is a significant cause of health problems and we have a duty to look at ways to tackle it.
“We have fully consulted on the strategy and, in supporting it, we are not giving the green light for all of the proposals to suddenly go ahead – we are simply saying that we agree to explore them further, to determine whether or not they are even feasible, or will be as effective as the report suggests. It is important to stress that Oxfordshire County Council is the highways responsibility and would therefore need to lead on any trials that take place. We will be working with them to see if the proposals are viable.”
The strategy supports work already being done as part of the Council’s Air Quality Action Plan (AQAP), introduced in 2015, and includes promoting greater use of electric vehicles with possible measures such as reduced car parking fees for low emission vehicles, providing more electric vehicle recharging points across South Oxfordshire and including air quality requirements in policies that guide planning and development in the district.
While poor air quality is also recognised as an issue for Henley, like Watlington and Wallingford, the strategy recognises that existing measures are already being put in place as part of the AQAP and no other viable options are being put forward.
The Low Emission Strategy and further information can be viewed via South Oxfordshire District Council’s website: http://democratic.southoxon.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=122&MId=2194