Steps to change Warwick District’s poor air quality adopted

Warwick town centre. ENGNNL00120130813171247

Warwick town centre. ENGNNL00120130813171247

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Changes could soon be coming to the district to help provide a better air quality.

Air quality has been an long-debated issue in the Warwick District with many councillors pushing for more to be done to both monitor and improve the issue.

boris bikes scheme

boris bikes scheme

In the recent World Health Organisation (WHO) report it showed that Leamington and Warwick are among the worst 50 towns for air quality in the UK.

In November Labour councillors were pushing for an increasing in monitoring to get a better average of the pollution levels.

After a communities overview and scrutiny committee meeting on September 15, 2015, it was decided that a transport-related air quality task-and-finish group was needed to go through the air quality issues in the district and what could be done to improve them.

In recent months the task and finish group has been focusing on reducing the number of vehicle journeys in the district as this was seen as a key way of reducing the impact on air quality.

The air quality report, which was created by the group, makes 13 recommendations to help improve the air quality in the district.

These include introducing and piloting portable air quality monitoring equipment which could be in the form of wristbands, tags or apps and looking into improving walking and cycling facilities particularly with new developments.

The report was adopted by Warwickshire County Council’s cabinet on Tuesday and has now become a council policy.

Cllr Jonathan Chilvers, chair of the air quality task-and-finish group, said: “Poor air quality is a big issue that affects us all.

“It’s estimated that 240 people per year in Warwickshire die from air pollution-related issues - that’s as many as from obesity and alcohol.

“Many other people’s health is negatively affected.

“The council has a big say on what roads and paths are built. There needs to be a step change so that walking and cycling are safe and enjoyable for short journeys so that when we do need to use cars we don’t get stuck in a jam breathing in pollution.

“The air quality report that the council have now adopted makes 13 practical recommendations to help make this happen.

“These include holding housing developers to account on their green travel promises, and portable live air quality monitoring so people can see what pollution’s like on their own regular journeys.”

Now that the council has adopted the plan council officers can start looking at the cost effectiveness of some of the recommendations, particularly the ones for potential London-style “Boris Bikes”, which could see similar rent-a-bike schemes, Brompton boxes, which store fold-up bikes at train stations and the Green Commute initiative, which encourages people to cycle to work.

Feasibility work for the transport air quality scheme is to take place. Cllr Chilvers said: “The council hopes the work will take place in the next part of the term.

“Air quality levels in certain places in Warwick and Leamington are far too high and we need to improve it and reduce congestion and make walking and cycling enjoyable for a safer journey –this scheme is a great step forward towards that.”