As promised, SODC has published its Air Quality proposals and is running a public consultation until 25 March. The website and consultation survey are simple to use and the whole process can be completed in *5
minutes* if you just answer the multi-choice questions. If you want to add comments, we’ve listed a few thoughts under each question.
*Please complete the survey!*
[If you’d prefer a paper copy, these should be available from the Town Information Centre from 1st March.]
Here’s how to get started: Click on www.southoxon.gov.uk/lowemissions
read the comments and admire the pictures. At the end you will find a link to the survey here
Here are the questions with our comments:
Any comments or suggestions?
The intro claims that ‘vehicle emissions *could*damage health.’ We know that they *do *damage health. DEFRA itself admits that there are more than 50000 premature deaths each year in the UK caused by air pollution and that at least 85% of air pollution in towns and cities comes from vehicle emissions.
Very roughly, this implies at least 5 premature deaths a year in Wallingford, where vehicle emissions are 25% above EC limits and have been like that for at least 10 years.
2. Helping people reduce emissions from vehicles.
Some good suggestions offered. A *20mph speed limit* should replace the current 30mph limit across the whole town. This has been shown to reduce emissions by at least 8% and would act as a deterrent to
through traffic. We also need to ensure that there are good and safe alternatives to driving: regular bus services, subsidised where necessary, safe cycle routes to Cholsey and Didcot stations, well-lit level footpaths and cycle routes from edge-of-town residential areas, perhaps park and ride services and bikes for hire.
3. Support electric and low emission vehicles.
More good ideas.
Ensure there is a charging point for electric cars in every public car park with more than 20 spaces. SODC should lead the way with a green Travel Plan, electric pool cars, perhaps help set up a car club with electric vehicles.
Good again. Delivery and service plans – could have a base on the Hithercroft and the old SODC car park.
Yes and ……… ensure bus engines switched off when stationary; investigate electric/hybrid minibuses for less popular routes; park and ride into town from Crowmarsh & Hithercroft using electric/hybrid minibuses? …
6. Reducing the impact new developments have on air quality.
All new developments will generate extra traffic and therefore *will *have an adverse effect on air quality. The current SODC “Guidance for Developers” considers new developments in isolation, whereas there will be a cumulative effect on vehicle numbers and thus emissions. The new Local Plan and Neighbourhood Plan must be allowed to consider the cumulative effects of new development on air quality.
7. Restrict access to the bridge over the Thames at Wallingford to some vehicles at certain times.
NOTE – SOME vehicles at CERTAIN TIMES – not a complete ban!
NOTE – This is the only action in this report which could reduce pollution levels in the High Street to a safe level.
NOTE – a traffic survey carried out for OCC in 2009 found that 22% of traffic travelling along Wallingford High Street was through-traffic. If we could persuade these drivers to use the bypass, the air quality problem could be solved. We would support trying out restricting traffic on the bridge, but would couple this with 20mph speed limits through town, and traffic calming measures on other arterial roads. The use of “shared streets” in the centre of town would be another way to discourage “through traffic” and prioritise pedestrians. This would have the added benefit of enhancing the town centre for visitors coming to shops and cafes.
A simple, smart solution would be to *introduce a congestion charge! Position cameras with number plate recognition software on The Street in Crowmarsh and on Wantage Road and Hithercroft Road -any vehicle entering the town and leaving again within e.g. 15 minutes would be charged say £5. Could also catch HGVs using the bridge!
8. *improving the flow of traffic through Watlington.*
A tricky one, perhaps best left to Watlington residents. Removing on-street parking might improve traffic flow and reduce emissions per vehicle, but better traffic flow could encourage*more* vehicles to use the route. This should be considered only after putting in 20mph speed limits, traffic lights and/or one-way systems.
9. *more enforcement of the 7.5 tonne weight limit in Watlington.
Definitely. And consider introducing a width restriction too.
*If you have any comments or suggestions for Sustainable Wallingford on the air pollution issue, email me at alisonjsmart at gmail dot com