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Air pollution 'not a problem' in West Berkshire

But residents told they 'have a responsibility' to ditch the car where possible

Dan Cooper

Dan Cooper


01635 886632

A339 Burger King roundabout

AIR pollution is “not a problem” in West Berkshire – but residents “have a responsibility” to ditch their cars in favour of taking public transport whenever possible to ensure it stays that way.

That was the view of the district council’s executive member for highways and transport, Jeanette Clifford (Con, Northcroft), when she was quizzed on the subject at a recent public meeting.

In response to a question from her Lib Dem counterpart, Alan Macro (Lib Dem, Theale), Mrs Clifford said that the latest findings showed that levels of nitrogen dioxide had decreased.

However, she encouraged residents to walk, cycle and take the bus or train to ensure those levels are kept under control.

In May 2009, the area around the Burger King roundabout in Newbury was declared an air quality management area after the average nitrogen dioxide (NO2) levels were found to exceed government targets.

Monitoring data showed that in 2008, the average nitrogen dioxide concentration at the junction was more than a third above government targets of 40 micrograms per cubic metre, while on 61 occasions during morning and evening rush hours, the levels exceeded the government's hourly target.

At the executive meeting on Thursday, July 26, Mr Macro asked his opposite number what the council was doing to reduce pollution and emissions from vehicles queueing for the Thatcham level crossing.

Giving a wider answer covering what was being done across the whole district, Mrs Clifford said: “Thank you for your timely question.

“It’s timely because the 2018 air quality report has just been submitted to Defra.

“It’s yet to be published, but I can give you advance notice that it will confirm that levels of nitrogen dioxide, which is the pollutant we are most concerned about here in West Berkshire, have declined over a period of five years.

“Air quality in West Berkshire is generally good. This is testament to the hard work, knowledge and commitment of our officers.

“We’re well aware of how fundamental air quality is for health.”

She added that the council had developed an air quality strategy which included improving traffic flow on to the A339 and opposing planning applications that have a negative impact on air quality.

Mrs Clifford added that the council had invested in pedestrian and cycling infrastructure, including upgrading the cycle path on the A4 between Newbury and Thatcham.

She went on to say: “We’re improving public transport, we’re working on railway stations, building a better bus station in Newbury, all our vehicles in our public transport are at least Euro4 standard.”

Mrs Clifford also said that the council “carefully and regularly monitors air quality across the district” and each year monitoring stations were assessed to see if they were best located to give data.

“Air quality is a high priority for this council,” said Mrs Clifford.

“While fully acknowledging there is more to do, we’re pleased we’re seeing improvement over time.

“I’ll just end by saying that we as individuals have got responsibilities here.

“We know that the major threat to air quality in West Berkshire comes from road traffic.

“I love my car, but I don’t use it all the time and I think we need to ask ourselves instead of grabbing car keys, whether we can travel by foot, or by bike, or by public transport.”

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Article comments

  • Justin S

    18/08/2018 - 21:09

    Pollution may well have 'reduced' in the meters that test it, but it does depend on how the atmosphere and wind changes and can be different to what it actually is. There is issues with using the alternative methods of transport, which includes mainly costs . There is also the inconvenience of times, picking up kids, going to the doctors and everything else that modern man/ women multi tasks. I do also wonder how many of these councilors actually sing from the same hymn sheet . I guess Berty Benyon isnt using his car ban in getting on his bike or public transport ? Some of us here do cycle on a daily basis and what cycle infrastructure we currently have is potholed and unrideable due to lack of hedgerow maintenance. As usual , i will have to email the WBC to annually clear it as they wont schedule it. They could put it in my redundant green bin if they want. There is no way while Sainsburys roundabout is there that traffic can actually flow better and make definitive change to air


  • kingcnut

    18/08/2018 - 17:05

    There are a number of points in this article that does not ring true to me. Is the Newbury Weekly News producing fake news or just under-reporting the facts, contrary to their recent claim of being more trusted than social media. I know for a fact Cllr Jeanette Clifford is being disingenuous with a number of her quotes. My investigation showed her home harbouring four vehicles, not her single car, which subsequently earned me a SPOC (Single Point of Contact), with the Cllr refusing to communicate with me, making threats of contacting the Police for photographing her house in Moor Lane. The air pollution figures have yet to be published, therefore the NWN Reporter could not have verified the facts, relying on the Cllr’s spin instead. How can air pollution levels be decreasing with traffic volumes actually increasing in the past ten years? Cllr Clifford really does not want to promote walking, cycling or using public transport (using my words), but rather, promoting an increase in tra


  • EugeneStryker

    15/08/2018 - 13:01

    It would help if proper segregated cycle lanes were built as opposed to what is being planned at the moment.


  • paulGT11

    15/08/2018 - 11:11

    it is good to hear that air quality around the area of the Burger King roundabout has improved. However, i am concerned that there are plans to add new junctions and traffic lights at the A339 junction with cheap street near the railway station. Surely this will cause levels to increase again with vehicles having to stop/start several times; by the BK roundabout, the new lights and then the Sainsbury's roundabout.