Wednesday, 06 July 2022

More planters on way to trap air pollution

SEVENTEEN planters could be installed in Henley town centre in bid to reduce air pollution.

The town council is considering the idea following the success of a planter containing elaeagnus ebbingei, a plant with rough leaves which absorbs exhaust pollutants, that was put in Duke Street in May.

The new ones would by supplied by WindowFlowers, which already supplies the town’s hanging baskets, and would go in Bell Street, Duke Steet and Market Place.

They would cost £485 each, a total of £8,245, plus maintenance costs of £130 per planter, although some of this could be done by the council’s parks team to reduce the cost.

Speaking at a meeting of the council’s transport strategy group, Councillor Stefan Gawrysiak said the planters would reduce the amount of particulates and provide more greenery.

Patrick Fleming, a member of the environmental group Henley in Transition, said: “It does change the look of those streets. At the moment they are quite vertical.

“It can also have an effect on slowing down traffic. If you can build the impression in the town centre that it’s a quiet, calm place people will go through at a more reasonable speed.”

But committee member Ian Clarke said he would like to see data proving that the planters reduced pollution.

Councillor Sara Abey added: “I’m all for greening but we can’t go round doing it willy-nilly. When you put that thing there you said it was to test it so I assume we are going to get data back. How do we qualify spending that much without any proof it’s working?”

Cllr Gawrysiak said: “We will never be able to do that because it would be a major study. The only thing we can do is go on the science.”

Councillor Ian Reissmann said: “There’s plenty of evidence that greenery in towns reduces pollution. The avoided health costs of all greenery in the UK is more than £1 billion.”

Councillor Will Hamilton said the planters should be part of a more comprehensive plan on traffic management in the town.

He said: “I’m all for improving air quality in the town. Planters work in narrow roads with tall buildings. Trees are also a great idea in Hart Street. But we need to sort out the traffic before we decide where to put planters. In Duke Street and Bell Street they could become trip hazards.

“On one hand we have heard about removing street furniture and on the other installing planters.”

Meanwhile, Henley is to take part in the Britain in Bloom competition again next year after a year off.

It will enter the town category for the Thames and Chiltern in Bloom region in which it has enjoyed much success in recent years.

Members of the Henley in Bloom committee agreed unanimously to enter the competition again.

Vice-chairwoman Kellie Hinton said the town council’s parks services team was working well.

She said: “The organisation, skills and expertise are second to none. We are in a strong enough place to enter Thames and Chiltern in Bloom and get back to showing people in this town how proud they should be and to give back that sense of civic pride.”

Horticultural park warden Kyle Dowling said: “We are working on some great projects at the moment and it would be a shame not to showcase them.”

This year’s absence broke a run of six gold awards in the regional competition.

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