Plan to care for district air

Air quality has continued to improve in north Oxfordshire, meaning that the number of designated pollution hotspots has halved.

Published: Tuesday, 5th March 2024

Air quality

On Monday, 4 March, Cherwell District Council’s executive approved a new air quality action plan and agreed that Horsefair and North Bar in Banbury and Bicester Road in Kidlington no longer need to be classified as air quality management areas (AQMAs).

However, they remain two of the areas most affected by road traffic emissions, so the council will continue to prioritise monitoring and actions there.

Councillor Phil Chapman, Portfolio Holder for Healthy and Safe Communities, said: “Air pollution is recognised as contributing to the onset of heart disease and cancer and particularly affects the most vulnerable in society: children, older people, and those living in less affluent areas. Working with our partners to improve air quality is therefore an important priority for this council.

“In recent years, we have been supporting the take-up of electric vehicles and encouraging people to use active transport wherever possible. Although it is good to see air quality improving in some of the district’s worst-affected areas, our work to seek further improvements must continue.

“As well as ongoing cooperation with Oxfordshire County Council, the highways authority, we are determined to lead by example in areas that are under our direct control, such as policies related to new developments and our fleet of vehicles, with preparatory works underway to increase the number of electric vehicles we can charge at our depots.”

The council measures air quality in the district using diffusion tubes, and the data are recorded every month.

AQMA designations are based on an area’s nitrogen dioxide levels and whether they exceed limits set by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA). To have its AQMA designation removed, a site’s nitrogen dioxide emissions must be shown to have been below DEFRA limits for five years.

Improvements in car engine efficiency and reductions in traffic are likely to be the main reasons for the drop in pollution.

The two remaining AQMAs in the district are Hennef Way in Banbury and Kings End and Queens Avenue in Bicester.

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