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Royal Borough accused of 'green-washing' air quality figures

The Royal Borough has been accused of ‘green-washing’ its air quality data in Windsor so that the figures come in under the national objectives.

At a Windsor Town Forum meeting on Wednesday, forum members were given a report stating that air quality across the borough had ‘significantly improved’.

Data was shown from Windsor’s two air quality management areas (AQMAs), areas that have been identified by the Royal Borough as places where air quality objectives are unlikely to be achieved.

The two AQMAs in Windsor are the Imperial Road and St Leonards Road Junction, and the area surrounding the two A322 roundabouts between Windsor and Clewer Village.

Readings for Nitrogen Dioxide (N02) in these areas were lower in 2019 than in previous years, and lower than the national objective of 40 micrograms per cubic metre.

Presenting the report, environmental protection officer Feliciano Cirimele said: “The good news is air quality in Windsor and across the borough is significantly improved with all the results for 2019 below the national objective.”

However, the report states that these results have been ‘corrected’ by the council to show what the reading would be like at the nearest residential home, rather than what it is like on the side of the road.

Windsor resident Tom Wigley was critical of the way the council had presented its data.

He said: “The air quality data for 2019 appears to me to have been green-washed to provide an unrealistically positive impression of air quality.

“In the 2019 air quality report, there were 43 mean concentrations reported. Of those, 14 have been corrected for ‘relevant exposure’ whatever that means. Six of those 43 readings exceed the legal maximum of 40 (micrograms per cubic metre).”

Mr Wigley also questioned why N02 was the only contaminant monitored in the report, stating that the European Air Quality Directive sets out objectives for several other contaminants.

He added: “I believe we do not know the real quality of the air we breathe in Windsor.

“I urge the Royal Borough to come clean on our air quality and do much more to improve it.”

Councillors on the panel also expressed concerns about the figures.

Councillor Karen Davies (Lib Dem, Clewer East), said: “I walk often around the Imperial Road Junction in particular, half an hour or an hour of walking around St Leonards Road or Wakefield Road and I need to use my inhaler because the fumes set my chest off badly.”

Cllr Helen Price (TBF, Clewer and Dedworth East) added: “My prime concern is for our youngsters, when I add up the number of schools that are either within the two areas of Windsor or on the edge of them, I find it quite terrifying that they’re being exposed.”

Suggestions for improving air quality included making streets safer to walk to school on, introducing ‘no idling’ signs and making roads more appealing for pedestrians and cyclists.

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