South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse District Councils have introduced a joint Air Quality Action Plan (AQAP) to boost air quality over the next four years.

The latest strategy replaces the previous AQAP which had been active for around nine years.

It was re-evaluated to ascertain current pollutant levels and form the correct response to combat them.

Although the vast majority of locales across South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse possess "very good" local air quality, a handful of Air Quality Management Areas require careful monitoring due to poorer conditions.

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The new AQAP will prioritise these locations.

Over the last five years, a consistent reduction in nitrogen dioxide, a major pollutant commonly associated with emissions from internal combustion engine vehicles, has been observed across the districts.

This trend has been linked to several factors, including the execution of preceding Air Quality Action Plans, a greater number of people working from home, and the rise in usage of electric vehicles (EVs).

The new plan aims to build on the successful reduction in nitrogen dioxide volume.

It aims to lower traffic emissions by advocating for healthier, cheaper alternatives for brief trips, such as walking or biking.

Where vehicles are a necessity, the councils will push for a surge in public transportation and low emission vehicles, like EVs.

Councillor Sue Cooper, South Oxfordshire District Council cabinet member for the environment, said: "It’s good news that there has been a consistent reduction in one of the key pollutants (nitrogen dioxide) which is detrimental to the health of some of our vulnerable residents.

"We want to continue reducing air pollution with our new Air Quality Action Plan and we hope our residents will support our actions."

Councillor Mark Coleman, Vale of White Horse District Council cabinet member for environmental services and waste, said: "The new Air Quality Action Plan identifies those responsible for delivering the actions.

"Specifically, those that sit with the district councils and those that sit with our key air quality partners, Oxfordshire County Council and National Highways.

"This is a great example of partnership working, which is essential to improve local air quality."

The joint AQAP for 2024-2028 was officially adopted at the councils' licensing committee meetings that took place last week.

The district councils published a draft new plan which was put out to public consultation last summer.

Following analysis of the feedback from the consultation, a second version of the plan was produced last August.

This was approved by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affair in December.