The air quality in Tewkesbury High Street has been substantially improved thanks to initiatives introduced by Tewkesbury Borough Council.

The council took action in 2008 when it declared an Air Quality Management Area (AQMA) in the high street as the air quality was not meeting expected targets.

Following the declaration of the AQMA, the council implemented a Tewkesbury Town Centre Air Quality Action Plan to help reduce nitrogen dioxide levels in the area – this recommended a 5% reduction in overall traffic and the exclusion of all heavy goods vehicles exceeding 7.5 tonnes.

These recommendations were incorporated into traffic plans introduced by Gloucestershire County Council and highway improvement and safety works then took place to improve the flow of traffic along the high street.

Meanwhile, national strategies and policies have reduced local polluting emissions. Across the UK, nitrogen dioxide emissions fell by over 19% between 2010 and 2015.

Ongoing reviews of the AQMA have continued to monitor the air quality of the high street and the data from the most recent monitoring period showed a significant reduction in nitrogen dioxide.

The AQMA will now be removed from 1 August 2022.

The council will continue to prioritise improvements to air quality as it looks to the future. Over the coming year, it aims to:

  • Continue its replacement of petrol-fuelled council vehicles with electric vehicles.
  • Continue plans to install public car park and on-street electric vehicle charging points.
  • Develop the Tewkesbury Borough Council website to include information on air quality, incorporating a ‘How you can help’ section, which seeks to promote good practice for dust- and smoke-generating activities such as bonfires and wood fuel burning.
  • Proceed with its pledge to become carbon neutral by 2030.

Tewkesbury Borough Council’s lead member for clean and green environment, Councillor Jim Mason, said: “Small changes can make a big difference when it comes to improving air quality and reducing our carbon footprint. I’m delighted that the steps we have taken have proved to be effective, and I’m grateful to all those people who have worked hard to make those changes.

“These measures, together with other council initiatives such as installing electric vehicle charging points in our car park, replacing two of our petrol-fuelled vehicles with electric cars, and installing a solar canopy over our car park are helping us to improve air quality and make a contribution to fighting climate change.”