GROWING population levels could un-do improvements in air quality, councillors have warned, with some calling for more monitoring to better understand the problem.

Some parts of Didcot have bucked the trend for falling levels of Nitrogen Oxide seen in most parts of south Oxfordshire, potentially linked to major new development sites and more vehicles being on the roads.

The monitoring station at the junction of Station Road and Mendip Heights exceeded recommended levels for pollutants in the atmosphere last year.

Also of concern is the Marsh Play Area in Fleet Way where monitoring ceased in 2016, without being able to assess the impact of the Aldi store opening.

Independent councillor Simon Hewerdine said he is concerned for the well-being of children using the play area, next to an area of potentially high pollution.

He wants South Oxfordshire District Council to introduce an 'Air Quality Management Area' in the town, similar to those used in Wallingford and Watlington.

He said: "My biggest concern is Didcot is growing very fast and it is important our monitoring is in the right place.

"Most people in the town will have noticed traffic backing up from the new lights at Great Western Park into the town, going straight past the Mendip Heights monitoring station.

"As Didcot grows it's reasonable to conclude the situation is going to get worse and construction vehicles will also play a part.

"Currently we rely on monitoring being reported as annual averages but this doesn't show us where the spikes are and it's hard to assess when pollution is at its worst.

"I would like to see continuous automatic measurement and more monitoring put in place."

Didcot Town Council wrote to South Oxfordshire District Council and Oxfordshire County Council to raise concerns after a motion was passed in a meeting in September.

In its response, Oxfordshire County Council's director for planning and place Sue Halliwell wrote that readings in Mendip Heights may not be accurate because they are 30 metres from the monitoring site.

She added that there are no plans to introduce an AQMA because targets are currently being met but locations of monitoring sites will be reviewed later this year.