Air Quality Action Plan 2024-2029 consultation

Closed 17 Jan 2024

Opened 6 Dec 2023

Results updated 28 Feb 2024

217 responses were received to the consultation. 65% of respondents agreed air quality is an important issue, compared with 21% who disagree. Of those only 14% thought that the AQ would effectively address air pollution, 37% did not think it would address air pollution, with 47% being unsure.

To interrogate the reasons why people did not think the AQAP would be effective, the comments received were collated. The most common response was that tougher action such as a Clean Air Zone is needed. Other popular reasons were Bus, P&R and Trains are too expensive; it needs more emphasis on cycling and walking or; it needs more support for low emission vehicles.

Proposed actions from the AQAP are split into three broad categories (Cleaner Transport, Policy and Guidance Development, Public Health and Awareness) and responses to the consultation under each are looked at below.

  • Cleaner Transport – The largest percentage of responses were in strong agreement (between 63-31% across the actions) with 14 of the 17 proposed transport related actions which are aligned to the emerging Reading Transport Strategy.  Opinions on the proposed actions to introduce more 20mph zones, differential emission-based parking rates, reprioritising road space away from cars, were more polarised, with the actions still having a strong agreement from a large percentage, but an equally large percentage in strong disagreement with the plan.
  • Policy and Guidance Development – The responses show strong agreement (between 41-23%) or agreement (29-20%) across our proposed policy related actions.
  • Public Health and Awareness – Most people strongly agreed (69-25%) or agreed (30-19%) with the actions within this category. There was a higher level of ambivalence to some of these actions (29-17% Neither agree or disagree). This may be because people see that these actions do not have a direct impact on improving air quality, however raising public awareness of the issue is considered to be a critical function of the AQAP.

The consultation asked if there are any other measures that people would like  to see in the action plan, and if so, what would they be. Comments received for this have been categorised.

Most of the responses received to the consultation agreed with the proposed actions, and almost all the suggested ideas are already being addressed by actions proposed in the plan, or otherwise are outside the outside the scope of Reading Borough Council’s control. It is therefore not proposed to make many changes following the consultation. Changes being made are:

  • To add a condition relating to tree planting and greening – This will align with the tree strategy, to maximise tree planting and greening in ‘tree corridors’ along the AQMA considering the choice of species to maximise the tolerance to and pollution trapping potential.
  • Removing RDAQ10, the Cross Thames Travel Scheme from the list of actions. Although popular with respondents to the consultation (55% strongly agree) it is unlikely to be achievable in the lifespan of the AQAP (2024 to 2029).
  • Following the appraisal received from Defra, efforts are being made to quantify the impact of each action on NO2 where the available data makes this possible.


We are currently consulting on a new Air Quality Action Plan (AQAP) which sets out how the council intends to improve air quality in Reading. The previous action plan ran from 2016 and focused on actions to reduce Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) to achieve compliance with national objectives. Several successful initiatives have been delivered that have helped to improve air quality over this period:

  • Construction of Green Park Station, which formally opened in May 2023. The new railway station offers a sustainable travel alternative to private vehicle use, connecting the Green Park business area, Select Car Leasing (Madejski) Stadium and the Green Park Village residential area to the Great Western Railway line.
  • Commencement of the Southern Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) corridor, offering a sustainable travel option connecting the south of Reading to central Reading which will be largely unaffected by local road congestion.
  • Introduction of Park & Ride schemes at Thames Valley Park, Winnersh Triangle and Mereoak, to reduce the number of car trips to central Reading, thereby reducing congestion and emissions.
  • Provision of the National Cycle Network 422, offering a safer east-west cross-town route, to encourage and prioritise active travel.
  • Reading’s bus fleet has received substantial investment in recent years, enabling the retrofitting of buses with newer, cleaner exhaust engines. 100% of Reading’s bus fleet now comprises hybrid, natural gas or Euro 6 diesel engines, making the fleet one of the cleanest in the UK.
  • In 2020, Reading Borough Council introduced a taxi emissions policy and reduced taxi licensing fees for ultra-low emission and electric vehicle drivers, by 25% and 50%, respectively. This will encourage the uptake of low- or -zero- emission taxis, reducing the air quality impacts these have on the local road network.

This new AQAP continues the ambition to reduce NO2 emissions, but also places considerable emphasis on targeting PM2.5 emission reductions. This is to align with the increasing evidence around PM2.5 being extremely harmful to health, and the changes to national policy that have followed as a result.

Air pollution is associated with a number of adverse health impacts. It is recognised as a contributing factor in the onset of heart disease and cancer. Additionally, air pollution particularly affects the most vulnerable in society: children and older people, and those with heart and lung conditions. There is also often a strong correlation with equalities issues, because areas with poor air quality are also often the less affluent areas.

The annual health cost to society of the impacts of particulate matter alone in the UK is estimated to be around £16 billion. Reading Borough Council is committed to reducing the exposure of people in Reading to poor air quality in order to improve health.

We have developed actions that can be considered under six broad topics:

  • Policy guidance and development control
  • Promoting low emission plant
  • Promoting low emission transport
  • Public information
  • Transport planning and infrastructure
  • Traffic management

Our priorities are to tackle emissions from local transport sources that impact on key locations and communities by developing policies and infrastructure plans to enable the prioritisation of sustainable and active travel modes.

Policy is to be developed to tackle domestic wood burning in Reading along with local planning guidance to better manage and control development emissions. other initiatives include setting up a service for alerting and protecting vulnerable individuals during air pollution episodes and developing and implementing an Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Strategy.

In this AQAP we outline how we plan to effectively tackle air quality issues within our control. However, we recognise that there are a large number of air quality policy areas that are outside of our influence (such as vehicle emissions standards), but for which we may have useful evidence, and so we will continue to work with regional and central government on policies and issues beyond Reading’s direct influence.

Please use the following links to see the main sections of the AQAP:

AQAP 2024-2029 Consultation draft

Development & Implemnentation of the AQAP

Reading Borough Council's AQ Priorities

Summary of Current AQ in Reading


Why your views matter

Our draft Air Quality Action Plan will ensure we can continue to monitor how we are doing and sets out clear targets on what we want to achieve by 2029.

Before we finalise the draft plan, we want to give residents, businesses, community and interest groups, and our partners the opportunity to have their say to ensure the plan is appropriate for all our local communities.

The consultation is open to everyone and asks your views on the overall document, its actions and how we can all support this work


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