Air Quality action plan approved
West Oxfordshire District Council’s Cabinet has endorsed a plan to improve air quality in Chipping Norton. The plan will involve seeking approval to de-trunk parts of the A44 so that heavy goods vehicles are re-routed away from the town.
The area around Horsefair in Chipping Norton was declared an Air Quality Management Area in 2005 because of the high levels of nitrogen dioxide pollution caused largely by traffic and, in particular, heavy goods vehicles.
Further investigations followed and a draft action plan was published outlining a number of options. The Plan took into account any adverse impact each option might have, such as transfer of pollution to other areas, increases in noise or congestion or harm to the environment such as the destruction of ecologically sensitive areas and habitats.
Earlier this year the public gave their views on the options and a traffic management proposal was produced by Oxfordshire County Council as the Highways authority.
The re-routing proposal includes changing road signs and imposing vehicle weight limit restrictions on traffic coming into Chipping Norton. Approval for this measure is dependent on consultation with neighbouring authorities, as the A44 signage crosses county boundaries and will impact on several local authorities.
Oxfordshire County Council will also investigate whether introducing a low emission zone in Chipping Norton will allow for better enforcement of the restrictions.
Cllr David Harvey, Cabinet Member for Environment said, “People living in Chipping Norton have had to put up with the effects of heavy traffic for many years and so we are pleased to be supporting this proposal. We are concerned that in the long term it may not solve the air quality problem. Because of this we are asking Oxfordshire County Council to seek regional funding for a more significant scheme. In the meantime we will continue to monitor air quality levels.”
The Council’s Cabinet also approved purchase of a new monitoring station for the Bridge Street area in Witney as this is also an Air Quality Management Area.
The Action Plan can be viewed on www.westoxon.gov.uk.
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