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Air quality in Newbury and Thatcham improving

Air quality is improving in Newbury and Thatcham, according to latest figures.

They say for the last five years the results have shown a year-on-year decrease of the nitrogen dioxide (NO2) emissions in five main air quality control sites in and around the town.

Air pollution in West Berkshire is improving, according to latest figuresStock image of Newbury
Air pollution in West Berkshire is improving, according to latest figuresStock image of Newbury

Throughout the whole of West Berkshire, only 15 of the 2022 sites showed an increase in NO2 levels compared to 2021, and 19 showed a decrease.

The figures were contained in a recent report to the Public Protection Partnership.

The major source of air quality pollutants in West Berkshire are road transport and in particular the contribution from the A339 and A4 has been identified.

The main pollutant is nitrogen dioxide in Newbury and Thatcham and, as a consequence, two Air Quality Management Areas (AQMAs) have been declared.

Air pollution is associated with a number of adverse health impacts.

It is recognised as a contributing factor in the onset of heart disease and cancer.

Additionally, air pollution particularly affects the most vulnerable in society; children, the elderly and those with existing heart and lung conditions.

Nine sites which increased, but which sit outside the testing zones, are the A339 Newbury Central, the Old Bakery, Tidmarsh, The Cross Key Inn, Pangbourne, Elizabeth Court, Theale, 374 London Road, Newbury, Calcot School, Westwood Farm School, Streatley, and Station Road near the canal, Woolhampton.

The traffic counter on the A340 in Tidmarsh has shown that the daily traffic average in 2022 has stayed very similar to that in 2021, with 11,882 vehicles in 2022 from 11,439 in 2021.

However, the 2022 daily averages are not as high as the 2019 yet at 12,959 vehicles.

Therefore, the increase of NO2 at the Old Bakery, Tidmarsh, and Cross Keys Inn may not be due to the increase of traffic on the roads.

It may be due to other factors such as roadworks creating queues, or vehicles parking and idling next to the tube locations.

The report also highlights efforts being made by the council to reduce emissions, such as the extension of the A4 cycle way, a campaign aimed at stopping traffic idling, and an increase in electric charging points.

The council was awarded a Defra grant of £259,000 for the projects and looking at behaviour change of residents, with the aim of reducing exposure of children at school.

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