THE ruling out of a ULEZ in Reading has been dubbed ‘a craven act’ in an explosive comment made by a councillor.

Reading Borough Council’s Labour administration has ruled out an ultra-low emission zone (ULEZ) as seen in London, which would charge drivers depending on their vehicles’ pollution rating.

But the council has recently been accused of cowardice over ruling out a ULEZ in Reading by opposition councillor David McElroy.

While cllr McElroy (Green, Redlands) praised the council’s Air Quality Project team for its efforts, he criticised the Labour administration for not considering a ULEZ.

He said: “Ruling out a ULEZ at all let alone one that covers the parts of Reading where the air pollution is a politically craven act that puts perceived electoral advantage ahead of people’s life expectancy and our kid’s development.

“Anyone who actually sniffs outside their window knows that air quality in Reading is terrible.”

He made his comments in a discussion about the council’s Air Quality Action Plan 2024-2028, which is currently in draft form and is set to go out to public consultation.

READ MORE: Dangerously high air pollution in nearly all Reading neighbourhoods

Air quality is assessed by the amount of particulate matter (PM2.5 and PM10) and nitrous dioxide (NO2) in the air.

The current legal limit for PM2.5 in the UK is 20 micrograms per cubic metre (μg/m3) and the World Health Organisation (WHO) limit is 5 μg/m3.

In Cemetery Junction, the average PM2.5 level is 8 μg/m3, putting it above the WHO target.

Cllr McElroy said: “PM2.5 at Cemetery Junction is way over the limit recommended by the WHO.

“Caversham Road, Oxford Road, London Road, they’re all filthy, and exceed the WHO recommended limit for PM10.

“Nitrogen Dioxide on Friar Street is nearly four times the WHO recommended limit. Communities who get the sweet taste of a ULEZ, however suspicious they are initially, don’t look back.

“I suggest that anyone who lives in Reading and breathes on most days participates in this consultation.”

Reading Chronicle: Councillor Dave McElroy (Green, Redlands). Credit: Reading Green PartyCouncillor Dave McElroy (Green, Redlands). Credit: Reading Green Party

John Ennis, lead councillor for climate strategy and transport, argued that there is an ‘improving picture’ regarding air quality in Reading but accepted that pollution in some areas was unacceptable.

Cllr Ennis (Labour, Southcote) said: “There are some locations that are above the UK and WHO air quality targets. That is not acceptable.

“Everyone in the town deserves to have clean air.”

The discussion about the council’s air quality action plan took place at a meeting of its strategic environment, planning and transport (SEPT) committee on Wednesday, November 15.

Members unanimously agreed to approve the draft plan for consultation, and that a report be prepared for a March 2024 meeting of SEPT to adopt the plan.