Saturday, 23 June 2018

Pollution- busting trees to appear after all

TREES to help reduce pollution could be put in pots in Henley town centre after all.

TREES to help reduce pollution could be put in pots in Henley town centre after all.

Henley in Bloom had proposed having silver birch trees in Duke Street, which has some of the highest levels of pollution in the town.

But Oxfordshire County Council said it was concerned about the containers damaging the pavements due to their size and weight.

Now it has relented and agreed to approve the scheme if the pavement is not obstructed and the weight of the pots is evenly distributed to protect the “underground apparatus”.

Town councillor Simon Smith, who chairs Henley in Bloom, revealed the change of heart at a meeting of the town council’s traffic advisory committee on Tuesday.

He said: “As long as we place them in a suitable place, where the footpaths are not too narrow, and providing we use the pots with a large footprint so we can protect the pavement, we shouldn’t have problems.”

Cllr Smith said the pots could be moved around, although it would take four people to lift one, adding: “They won’t be a permanent fixture.”

Charles Langler, a member of the group, said the planters would prevent lorries from mounting the pavements.

Councillor David Nimmo Smith, cabinet member for transport at the county council, added: “A form of bollard — a nice, attractive, bollard.”

Councillor David Eggleton asked how many planters would be allowed and Cllr Nimmo Smith replied that there would be no restriction as long as they were sited appropriately.

Chris Hulme, of Thames Valley Police, asked if the trees could blow over and Cllr Smith replied: “Not at all. They would not be top-heavy enough.”

Henley has some of the worst pollution levels in South Oxfordshire.

In June 2014, the average annual reading of nitrogen dioxide was 62.4 micrograms per cubic metre compared with the 40mcm objective set by Air Quality England.

Mr Langler told the meeting that he wanted to encourage more cycling in Henley to help reduce pollution.

“I would be quite happy to chair a meeting of interested cycling parties,” he added.

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