AIR quality is improving in Winchester according to a new report by the city council.

Data shows that more areas of central Winchester are now meeting national standards for nitrogen dioxide (NO2), an environmental pollutant. Several of the main routes into and out of Winchester’s city centre, such as Andover Road, Chesil Street, St Cross Road and Alresford Road, which have historically exceeded legal limits for NO2, are now showing compliance according to monitoring across 2019.

These locations are part of the city centre’s ‘Air Quality Management Area’ (AQMA) meaning they are subject to an action plan to achieve reductions in air pollution levels to meet national targets. There is a general reduction in NO2 across the designated area, and further parts of the zone are expected to show compliance by 2021 if trends continue.

The council has implemented a range of measures to deliver air quality improvements at the NO2 hotspots across the city, including introducing park and ride sites, car parking pricing zones, the development of air quality focused planning standards and sustainable transport strategies. Levels of NO2 are also improving due to the adoption of cleaner engine technology.

And at a meeting of the health and environment policy committee an update on plans in development to further promote greener and cleaner ways to travel, such as walking, cycling alongside increasing the use public transport and electric vehicles were discussed. This is in line with the council’s priority to tackle the climate emergency and reduce carbon emissions.

Cllr Jackie Porter, cabinet lead for built environment and wellbeing, said: “It is good news for people who live, work and visit Winchester that more areas of the city are now reaching legal limits for NO2. But this is not a signal for complacency. It remains the case that while NO2 levels are falling, traffic levels in central Winchester are unsustainably high.

“We will continue to work with partners and businesses to support the changes needed to meet national standards and deliver a reduction in carbon emissions from transport to meet the climate emergency.

“Meeting limits for NO2 are one important measure of success, but we are taking action to promote walking, cycling and cleaner vehicles such as electric cars to further clean up the city’s air. Individuals can help by choosing greener ways to travel where possible, turning off engines when stationary or keeping vehicles in good working order.”

However, the council still has more work to do when it comes to Romsey Road, with proposals to reduce the AQMA to focus on the stretch of road , but cabinet will decide on whether this should be done this year or 2021 at a forthcoming meeting.