Wycombe develops 25-point air quality plan

Action to combat exhaust emissions from buses, promotion of car-sharing services and enforcement of anti-idling fines are among the proposals being explored by Wycombe district council to tackle air pollution in the borough.

The local authority has opened a consultation into a new air quality action plan, which runs until 11 September, and is seeking views on whether further actions are required to address air pollution.

High Wycombe air quality

AQMAs have been established in High Wycombe (pictured) and Marlow

Drafting of the plan follows the declaration of two air quality management areas in late 2017, after which the council has worked with partners including Buckinghamshire county council, local bus companies, and Wycombe Friends of the Earth to develop proposals to reduce nitrogen dioxide levels (see airqualitynews.com story).

According to the draft plan, Wycombe council monitors air quality using 66 diffusion tube and two automatic monitoring station locations. Results from this monitoring suggested that areas of High Wycombe, Marlow and the M40 were in excess of the national annual mean limit for Nitrogen Dioxide.

A total of 25 proposals have been put forward by the council as part of the draft plan, which fall under headings including ‘transport and infrastructure’ and ‘public engagement and behaviour’.

Public transport

Promotion of public transport is among the key proposals within the strategy, with the council looking to work with Buckinghamshire county council and bus and rail operators to ‘make public transport more attractive to the public’.

Elsewhere, the council has said it would seek to pursue funding to upgrade older buses operating throughout the two AQMA areas to the Euro VI emissions standard, following a failed bid to the government’s clean bus fund.

Further work will also be done to raise awareness of existing Park & Ride facilities that serve the borough.

On public engagement, the council says it will draw up a programme of ‘regular’ engagement to educate the public about the current situation regarding air quality in the district, the reasons for the air pollution, how it affects their health and how they can contribute to reducing emission levels.

Engagement

This will be in addition to a public awareness campaign on every Clean Air Day to highlight the issues regarding air quality and how people can reduce their emissions.

The Bucks car-share scheme will also be promoted by both Wycombe district council and Buckinghamshire county council with the aim of reducing the amount of car journeys taken through the Air Quality Management Areas

The council is proposing to use legal powers to ensure drivers switch off their engines when stationary

Furthermore, the council will seek to use its legal powers enforce an anti-idling policy, which includes the potential for fixed penalty notices to be issued to rivers who repeatedly fail to switch off their engine while stationary.

According to the council there is a “misconception amongst a small proportion of the population that restarting their vehicle’s engine uses significantly more fuel than an idling engine and that regularly restarting their engine damages the starter motor.”

Announcing the launch of the consultation into the proposals, Cllr Julia Adey, Wycombe district council’s cabinet member for environment, commented: “We are confident that the plan will improve air quality, but we want to hear what you think about what we’re proposing to do. Do you think that the plan goes far enough or does it may be go too far? How could the plan be improved?

“What, if any, additional actions would you like us to consider? These are all the things that we want you to tell us during this consultation, so that we have a plan that we can all agree and sign up to.”

Further proposals outlined in the strategy relate to future planning policy, whereby officers will be tasked with ensuring that air pollution issues are a ‘material consideration’ when planning applications within or close to the AQMA are determined, and that provision of electric vehicle charging points will be seen as a ‘positive benefit’ of new developments.

Applications including new biomass boilers within 100 metres of or inside the AQMA itself will take into account the potential impact this could have on air pollution.

Related Links
Wycombe draft air quality action plan