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Pollution levels still on the rise in Winchester

Anger has been expressed at the slow progress in reducing pollution in Winchester city centre.

The centre’s one-way system and main routes have been covered by an Air Quality Management Area since 2003 with the first action plan launched in 2006, but levels of nitrogen dioxide and particulates still remain high in the city.

Winchester’s air pollution is mainly caused by traffic so the first lockdown saw levels reducing, the health and environment committee heard.

David Ingram, head of environmental health & licensing, said the council policy was to try to reduce traffic in the city centre with higher parking charges to encourage the use of park and ride.

“The most significant improvement in air quality would be realised by a significant reduction in vehicles accessing the town centre. There is a dichotomy in how we reduce levels of traffic without having a direct impact on economic prospects. We are trying to discourage more polluting vehicles such as SUVs.”

“We want to create a sense of movement in the district and something we want everyone to want to be a part of.”

The council is cutting its carbon footprint with the use of electric vehicles and reducing staff commuting.

A spokesperson from Winchester Council said the uptake of electric vehicles had been more than offset by the increased number of SUVs on the roads which was “very disappointing.”

Cllr Jackie Porter, Lib Dem, said of behaviour change: “Don’t underestimate lots of people making small changes: eating a vegetarian meal twice a week, using a slow cooker more often. Not everyone will rush out and buy an electric car.”

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