District council agrees to introduce AQMAs in Banbury and Kidlington, but defers decision for Bicester in order to carry out further monitoring
Cherwell district council declared two Air Quality Management Areas in North Oxfordshire at an executive meeting on Monday evening (September 1).
The council agreed to implement AQMAs in Horsefair/North Bar in Banbury as well as Bicester Road in Kidlington after levels of nitrogen dioxide in the areas were found to be exceeding annual average national limits in 2013.
The governmentâ€™s air quality objectives for England state that the annual average limit for nitrogen dioxide levels is 40 microgrammes per cubic metre (ugm3).
However, councillors deferred declaring a third AQMA â€“ in Kings End/Queens Avenue in Bicester â€“ so that it could carry out additional monitoring and assessment â€œfollowing changes to the road layoutâ€ in 2013.
Another AQMA has also been in place on Hannef Way in Banbury since 2011 and an action plan is currently being drafted to tackle high nitrogen dioxide levels in the area.
According to a council progress report on air quality in Cherwell, residents in the district â€œtravel further to work than people in the rest of the South East and nationallyâ€.
This, the report states, has meant that â€œcar ownership is high and residents in our rural areas are particularly dependent on their carsâ€ which has produced â€œa number of congestion hotspotsâ€ in the likes of Banbury, Bicester and Kidlington.
Cherwellâ€™s population has also grown by almost 12% over the last two decades, while it is expected to grow by a further cumulative 15.6% by 2026, which the report states is â€œsignificantly higher than regional and national ratesâ€.
In Staffordshire, meanwhile, Newcastle-under-Lyme borough council is currently holding an eight-week public consultation to give residents a â€œchance to talk to experts about air pollution problems in their area and find out what can be done to tackle themâ€.
The consultation, which started last week (August 25) and runs until October 12, follows air quality monitoring carried out in 2012, which identified four areas exceeding nitrogen dioxide limits.
These areas were:
According to the borough council, these four areas are all close to major roads and it is therefore â€œlikelyâ€ that the NO2 levels are due to traffic congestion.
As part of the consultation, council officers will be talking to residents at the following locations this month: Tesco, Kidsgrove (Tuesday, 9 September, 9am to 7pm); Asda, Morris Square, Wolstanton (Wednesday 10 and Thursday 11 September); Newcastle town centre (Friday 12 and Saturday 13 September, 9am to 4pm).