It’s good that Wycombe District Council are finally seeking to address the urgent issue of poor air quality through an Air Quality Action Plan (BFP August 10).

Essentially, society’s too great a reliance on fossil-fuelled private cars as a mode of transport is at the heart of the problem.

Since this situation has arisen over a long period of time and for complex reasons, it is inevitable that we need a diverse suite of actions, like the 25 in the draft Plan, which chip away gradually on multiple fronts in a complementary way.

But, even so, can’t we have something a little stronger than “efforts will be made to investigate potential opportunities....” in relation to improved cycle routes, and similarly unambitious and qualified statements for many of the other actions.

WDC are also hamstrung by the current two-tier structure of local government, whereby they have the responsibility for addressing air quality - but not the proper means to do so, since it is the County who are responsible for transport schemes and policies.

And at the county level, there is sometimes a sad lack of joined-up thinking: Town centre road schemes which don’t design in priority for buses, instead trapping them in queues; then they wonder why the commercial bus companies, having to cope with the extra costs caused by congestion, have little choice but to cut services or increase fares, triggering a further drift away of passengers, reduced revenue....and so on in a vicious circle of public transport decline and growing congestion.

Cuts to home-to-school transport: then they wonder why roads round schools are increasingly choked by parents’ cars and their fumes.

One useful addition to the plan would be measures to increase greenery in urban areas, which, as reported in the same edition of the BFP, serves to capture pollutants (and carbon dioxide), as well as benefitting perceived wellbeing.

The council should also be supported in their efforts to get an innovative policy about tree cover in to their Local Plan, but predictably many developers are quibbling about this “unreasonable imposition” on them. 

Mike Chadwick, Wycombe Friends of the Earth