Friday, 24 November 2017

Night-time HGV ban to ease pollution

A NIGHT-TIME ban on heavy goods vehicles and four new electric car charging points have been identified as steps to ease congestion and improve air quality in Henley.

The town council’s transport strategy group is also looking into walking routes, dedicated delivery slots, signage to direct motorists to long-term parking, a town-wide 20mph speed limit and a “kill your engine” campaign.

It comes as the council looks at ways of tackling Henley’s pollution problem, where the level of nitrogen dioxide in some streets is 50 per cent higher than Air Quality England’s target limit of 40 micrograms per cubic metre.

The group is also exploring a clean air zone, new cycleways, a night-time ban on heavy goods vehicles, an extension of the town’s air quality management area and how traffic can be displaced to the Marlow bypass.

It plans to invite experts to the town to seek advice on a scheme to remove traffic furniture, similar to a scheme in Poynton, Cheshire, to help improve traffic flows.

On Monday last week, group chairman councillor Stefan Gawrysiak, suggested inviting the designer of the Poynton project to Henley to give a seminar, to understand what could be possible in the town.

Councillor Ian Reissmann said officials from Oxfordshire County Council, the highways authority, would need to be involved in any discussions. “Without them this just can’t happen,” he said.

The group also wants to install four sensors that detect nitrogen dioxide and particulates, which are damaging to people’s health, particularly children, when inhaled.

Cllr Gawrysiak said: “You take the readings and have them as part of a study to prove there is a problem with nitrogen dioxide and particulates in Henley.

“We could pay £800 and invest in a hand-held device, but if it was to carry weight it would cost something like £20,000.”

This would cover a five-year study with Henley contributing £15,000 and Remenham Parish Council £5,000.

Cllr Reissmann said the measurement of particulates was “overdue”, saying: “It seems to me the district council are determined not to do this. We can regret that, we can criticise them, but the time has come to say ‘we will do it’.”

He proposed giving the district “one last chance” to do the work and, if it refused, the council would use community infrastructure levy money, contributions made from developers to pay for it which would then be claimed back from the district council if particulates were found to be over target limits.

Cllr Reissmann said: “If these are over the limit that is serious. We’re effectively in collaboration with the poisoning of the residents of Henley, and that would be wrong.”

Meanwhile, electric charging points are being considered for the King’s Road and Greys Road car parks and the group agreed in principle to explore the idea.

Cllr Gawrysiak, who represents Henley on the county council, said he would “vigorously pursue” whether a night-time ban on HGVs in Henley was feasible.

He said he will ask for a report from the authority to explain how it could be achieved and the costs involved so that the group could make a decision on whether or not to proceed.

Cllr Gawrysiak also revealed that he had received two emails from residents of New Street saying cracks had appeared in their homes due to HGVs “rumbling” through. He added: “It’s a major concern and we have got to have action on it.”

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