Actions on Town’s Pollution on National Clean Air Day

Clean Air for Henley are involved in three activities today on National Clean Air Day designed to encourage both behaviour change and funded actions by our three councils (Town, SODC and Oxfordshire CC) to help us to be able to breathe clean air.

We caught up with David Dickie and Gerda Barraclough members of Clean Air for Henley who were delivering ‘No Idling’ stickers to shops around the town at Crew Clothing Company in Bell Street and were joined by County, District and Town Councillor Stefan Gawrysiak.  Crew Clothing were one of many Henley shops who put up a ‘Close the Door’ sticker at the end of last year to try and keep the pollution fumes out of their shop.

Cathy Green, Crew Clothing Assistant Manager said, “We’re very much behind this campaign as the buses outside our shop always have their engines running.  We get five buses an hour, with sometimes two queuing at a time.  I think the bus stop should be moved not only for the pollution problem but because the buses often block up the road.  Lisette Geekens, Sales Assistant added, “They probably want to keep the engine running to keep the air conditioning on in this warm weather but the pollution is dreadful we have to keep wiping the grime off our windows.  People in the street have asked drivers to switch off their engines but many ignore the requests.”

David said, “In 2018 it is the No Idling campaign jointly run with the City of London, Oxford and Reading that is leading the way. It is mostly visiting Primary Schools where children are enthusiastically presenting their parents with ‘I’m No Idler’ car stickers. We hope the shops will display them too. If you see us just ask for one! The idea is that idling your engine whilst parked causes unnecessary pollution and is actually against the law. Bus and taxi companies are quite aware and we’re were delighted that one of the Thames Travel buses agreed to put up a sticker.”

Stefan Gawrysiak said, “This is all part of our trying to improve the air quality in Henley.  We have the town centre 20mph zone coming for the centre which will hopefully make the traffic just flow through because it is when cars and stop and start that you actually get more pollution .  It has been designed and there will be consultation period during July which if it goes smoothly the idea is that it will be implemented in September/October. The funding for this has been agreed by Henley Town Council.  Cycling and walking routes are also coming in.  The new shrub planters on Duke Street are on a trial and we want to get more of these but will need to get funding for these.  The idea is to green Henley and capture the particulates.  The No Idling is a great campaign to encourage people to switch off their engines when they are in stationary in traffic which is especially important in Bell Street and Duke Street which are worst polluted streets.”

The second initiative is to record our own town Nitrogen Dioxide measurements. David explained, “In a programme run by Friends of the Earth we have installed devices all over the town from Northfield End to Reading Road. You may wondering why we have done this. SODC have that responsibility but have not published results since 2015. Not much use if you are developing plans to cope. We can confirm that Henley still has a key problem and that in particular Northfield End has results 30% above the last results we had from SODC. In fact this was now challenging to be the worst place mainly caused by traffic backing up from the Bridge and then affecting the junction of Fair Mile, Marlow Road and Kings Road.”

Finally, Clean for Henley are supporting the launch of an Oxfordshire Clean Air Charter led by Oxfordshire Friends of the Earth and also supported by Wallingford and Watlington. This is mainly directed at Oxfordshire County Council whose chief will be receiving lots of supporting postcards on the day, some from Henley.

David concluded by saying, “As you can see we have much to do. If you could find a way to help sponsor this work then please visit https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/henley-in-transition  Stickers, pamphlets, measurement tubes, Hi Vis vests etc all have to be paid for somehow. Thanks to Henley Town Council  and the Transport Strategy Team led by Stefan Gawrysiak for their substantial support.”

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