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NEW initiatives to improve air quality in Henley and Watlington are being developed by Oxfordshire County Council.
It comes after the authority announced proposals for the creation of the world’s first zero-emission zone in Oxford.
This would be a long-term project, in conjunction with Oxford City Council, to enable road users and transport operators to plan for the necessary changes, including the use of zero-emission vehicles.
It is part of a strategy to reduce congestion and pollution in Oxford by rolling out segregated cycle routes, bus priority lanes, electric charging points and other measures.
In Henley and Watlington options for tackling air quality are being developed in conjunction with South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse district councils.
Despite a 37 per cent reduction in levels of toxic nitrogen dioxide across Oxford in the last decade, parts of the city centre are still failing to meet the legal limit.
The first steps in creating the zero-emission zone in the city could be in place as early as 2020.
A public consultation last year showed strong support for the idea but also emphasised the need for the councils to support businesses, transport operators and the public in making the transition.
The ambition is to ensure that Oxfordshire becomes a leader in tackling transport challenges linked to air pollution.
Councillor Yvonne Constance, cabinet member with responsibility for roads and air quality, said: “Oxford has been identified as a city with a major air quality problem and we are looking at a range of long-term measures to tackle congestion and reduce pollution, including a zero-emission zone. We are delighted that the Environment Secretary is making this issue a national priority and believe Oxfordshire has an opportunity to become a national leader in tackling air pollution through bold transport initiatives.”
The city and county councils have agreed in principle to progress the plans to the next stage following discussions with transport operators and other stakeholders.
Detailed proposals are now being developed for further consultation with residents and businesses.
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