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NTC to ratify air quality response

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Heavy pollution caused by traffic on Burger King roundabout to be discussed at tonight's (Monday) meeting

NEWBURY Town Council is set to ratify its response to West Berkshire Council's consultation over plans to improve the air quality along the A339 tonight (Monday).

A sub group of the town council's planning and highways committee has expressed its support for the reduction of Heavy Duty Vehicles and the possible implementation of a park and ride system at either end of the town – two options currently under consideration by the district council to reduce air pollution around the A339/A343/Greenham Road junction, known locally as the Burger King roundabout.

Tests have shown that the amount of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) - a toxic gas emitted by engines - recorded in the air in this area has consistently exceeded legally prescribed limits, causing concern over public health on a route used by many pedestrians, including school children.

The district council is now putting together an Air Quality Action Plan to improve the situation and so far it has identified various radical solutions.

After studying the plan, the town council's sub group agreed that it was in favour of:

- Any improvements in signage, with cross-border agreements, to encourage greater use of the Newtown straight/A34

- The creation of a Low Emission Zone, with associated policing

- A weight limit via traffic order, to force Heavy Duty Vehicles onto the A34 (as a last resort)

The group added that it would encourage further exploration of a possible park and ride system at either end of the town.

But it has criticised the action plan for the lack of clarity on what the council actually intends to do.

“There is no clear list of what is to be done when and at what cost. We assume that plan will be produced following the outcome of the consultation,” said the group.

It also recommended continued and frequent monitoring of the air quality around the area.

The consultation period on the Air Quality Action Plan ends on Sunday (October 2), after which a final plan will be drafted by West Berkshire Council.

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