Marlow Town Council is stepping up efforts to combat high levels of air pollution that have led to the town centre being declared an Air Quality Management Area.
The Council are communicating directly with drivers about how they can reduce their emissions via a banner over Spittal Street. The anti-pollution banner will stay up initially for two weeks and will return periodically for the forseeable future.
The banner communicates to drivers that vehicles are the main cause of high pollution levels in Marlow town centre. It also suggests two ways any driver can reduce their emissions: avoiding hard acceleration, and switching engines off when stationary.
The initiative to increase awareness of the air pollution problem is being taken under #sustainablemarlow, Marlow Town Council’s new sustainability vision, launched in July.
Chair of Marlow Town Council’s Environment Group and Council Leader Jocelyn Towns said: “On behalf of all residents, workers and visitors we are concerned about Marlow’s air pollution problem and want to take action. As a council we don’t have extensive powers to change who drives through Marlow town centre and when, but we can try to influence how people drive, and this is what we are doing.
“Multiple studies have shown that smoother driving behaviour can cut exhaust pollution. Wycombe District Council is preparing to put up ‘no-idling’ signs in Marlow town centre; we wanted to do our bit too to get the message across.
“We know that smoother driving behaviour alone will not solve Marlow’s air pollution problem,” Towns added. “So we are exploring other options too.”
One obvious way people can cut their pollution is by getting out of their cars and getting active by cycling or walking instead. Under its #sustainablemarlow initiative Marlow Town Council is developing a project to encourage cycling and expects to reveal more details on this soon.
Marlow town centre was declared an Air Quality Management Area (AQMA) after monitoring showed that the annual average level of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) has been above the legal limit of 40 micrograms per cubic metre (ug/m3) for several years.
The AQMA covers High Street, West Street, Spittal Street, Chapel Street and a portion of Little Marlow Road. NO2 is primarily produced by vehicle exhausts and high exposure has been shown to have adverse effects on human health, particularly cardiovascular and respiratory functions.