An air quality action plan has been developed to tackle exceedances of air pollution limits at two locations in Wokingham town centre and Twyford Crossroads.
The plan, which was approved by Wokingham borough council last week, outlines steps to be taken by the council to address nitrogen oxide air pollution, which has been monitored to exceed the 40 µgm/m2 legal limit at 11 receptor-sites, up to 2026.
Key activities identified within the plan include actions to reduce the overall volume of vehicles travelling in and around highly polluted areas within the borough – as well as a potential increase in the number of low emission buses operating in Wokingham town centre.
This will include investigation of the potential for a Low Emission Zone in key areas within the borough, although the council has indicated that the measure would hinge on a potential business case endorsing the proposal.
Other measures include improving cycle provision, reviewing bus fleet and investigating potential alternative routes that could be encouraged throughout the impacted areas. Work to establish a £2 million cycle way in the town has been ongoing for a number of years, and is anticipated to be completed in 2019.
Commenting on the plan, Clare Lawrence, assistant director for place-based services at Wokingham borough council, said: “Monitoring identified two areas in the borough with slightly elevated levels of nitrogen dioxide: Wokingham town centre and Twyford Crossroads. We take our responsibilities very seriously and have declared two Air Quality Management Areas to ensure that we can monitor and improve the area.
“Larger quantities of nitrogen dioxide are more commonly found in areas where there is traffic congestion. Wokingham borough’s road network has the unique problem of serving one of the highest car ownership ratios in the UK as well having major strategic routes – the A329M and M4.
“The action plan sets out how the council will work towards reducing the levels of nitrogen dioxide within the two areas to improve public health and the wellbeing of borough residents.â€?
Elsewhere the plan indicates that the council is developing a planning policy guidance document to be encourage new developments to adopt good practice design principles to protect local air quality.
Wokingham council declared two AQMAs in 2016 after elevated levels of NO2 were recorded (see airqualitynews.com story).
Wokingham AQ Action Plan