Clean air should be the entitlement of all. We look out to blue skies or grey clouds and think there is clean air between us and them. But that’s rarely the case. Our air is increasingly full of gases and particles that we can’t see or even smell but which can harm us.

In view of the potential impact for making changes that will improve air quality, particular attention is given here to building support across the community, as outlined below.

Light and noise pollution are associated issues. ‘Light blight’ is increasingly recognised for its detrimental impact on wildlife and humans, with environmental and scientific organisations continuing to sound warnings about it. Disruption of sleep is a concern, as is the impact on creatures and
eco-systems. Solutions are readily available.

3.1 Awareness and understanding

OBJECTIVE: Improve understanding of the key issues by producing authoritative reference sources, including leaflets and website posts, on key air quality (AQ) issues.

Action: Produce leaflets and website information on:

  • CO2 impact on global warming
  • medical risks from black carbon
  • household pollutants
  • sources / dispersal of pollution
  • practical carbon capture
  • light pollution

OBJECTIVE: Assess the extent of the problem by establishing metrics for tracking the level of pollution in Thame and its potential impact.

Action: Undertake the following:

  • Selective AQ monitoring in key areas as available at modest cost
  • Traffic surveys at peak times
  • Collect examples of personal experiences
  • Seek medical advice & support
  • Build a model of pollution levels and times

OBJECTIVE: Create suitable events to encourage people to learn more and engage with others.

Action: One or more suitable public events such as a carbon cutting workshop along the lines led in Henley, possibly as part of Green Living Week.

Action: Promote awareness of light pollution including the CPRE guidance relevant to planning decisions.

3.2 Individual actions which can encourage others to make changes

Creating a healthier town centre

OBJECTIVE: Reduce air pollution through better driving

Action: Promote the following:

  • Drive more smoothly and slowly
  • Switch to a more efficient model
  • Turn off engine – don’t idle
  • Use car parks away from the High Street
  • Use ring road, not town centre

Cleaner ‘outside’ air

OBJECTIVE: Create cleaner ‘outside air’ using more carbon capture or offset mechanisms

Action: Promote the following:

  • Plant trees, hedges, shrubs at home (see also Green Spaces focus area)
  • Buy carbon offsets

Noise Pollution

OBJECTIVE: Respect others and reduce all unnecessary or untimely noise

Action: Take precautions by:

  • not using noisy equipment unless necessary
  • not using equipment at antisocial times
  • shielding noise where possible
  • warning neighbours where applicable

Transport and Travel

OBJECTIVE: Create greater awareness of and seek reduction of carbon emissions and greenhouse gases from holiday and business travel

Action: Promote the following:

  • Don’t fly unless you must or take steps to reduce your flights
  • Use Skype, Zoom or video conferencing more
  • Don’t drive if you don’t need to – unless there are several of you
  • Book trains early for better fares
  • Adjust your mindset – change your mode of travel and take time to enjoy the journey
  • If you can’t avoid plane or car, cut back elsewhere and consider paying for carbon offsets through one of several providers


More exercise for better health

Less use of polluting vehicles.

Action: Promote the following:

  • Don’t use the car unless essential
  • Walk/cycle (allow time!)
  • Use train/ bus (get more done)
  • Go electric
  • Car share

Light Pollution

OBJECTIVE: Acknowledge and mitigate light pollution. Recognise serious effect on human sleep patterns and health and breeding patterns of insects and mammals.

Action: Take remedial measures:

  • reduce pollution from outside/ security lights
  • avoid upwards-facing outside lights
  • check positioning and control of street lights
  • install light timers
  • use less intense and warm (not cool) lights
  • use curtains and blinds to shield lights

Cleaner Air at Home


Less agricultural carbon

Healthier cooking

Avoiding polluting home products

Reduce home heat loss & exhaust gases from boilers

Update boilers

Action: Promote the following

  • Reduce open frying of food
  • Reduce meat/ dairy consumption
  • Reduce use of tumble dryers etc.
  • Cut back harmful sprays
  • Don’t use log fires except with kiln-dried wood
  • Install better home insulation
  • Turn down heating

Action: Consider replacing gas-fired or oil-fired boilers, e.g. with Air Source’ or ‘Ground Source’ Heat Pumps without polluting exhaust gases

3.3 Develop a widely supported movement for change on Air Quality

1. Build Awareness

OBJECTIVE: Establish a fuller local awareness and understanding of the dangers of air pollution and the options available to improve local air quality

Action: Progress the following:

  • Summarise the options available (see below) and their respective benefits/ drawbacks
  • Hold a town hall Clean Air / carbon workshop event with discussion
  • Plan a Thame Green Living Week – say, with a different emphasis each day (see below)

2. Create vision and outline strategy

OBJECTIVE: Put in place a shared and aspirational vision and framework to build a strategy for Thame as a fully clean, green town.

Action: Progress the following:

  • Agree parameters for vision
  • Prepare outline ideas and options
  • Engage interested parties
  • Seek levels of agreement on possible actions
  • Engage graphic designers to assist consultation and consider range of media

3. Test the options

OBJECTIVE: Observe and review the practical impact of the options available.

Action: Progress the following:

  • A trial no idling day for Thame
  • A campaign involving volunteers and publicity and volunteers at school gates
  • A trial week for changing the pattern of school runs, including walking buses and less use of cars
  • An electric vehicle (EV) open day in the town with test drive opportunities
  • An EV only day in town centre

Work with stakeholders and partners to test the options



Improved understanding of the issues at teacher and student level.

Fresh thinking and ideas that appeal to a younger group.

Agreement and volunteer support to effect change.

Action: Progress the following:

  • Approach headteachers and school governors for their active involvement
  • Plan school projects to increase awareness of issues – including school gates pollution
  • Encourage parents to walk children to school or seek practical solutions
  • Promote a ‘walking bus’ and similar schemes

Businesses & public transport vehicles

OBJECTIVE: Consider the needs of business and commercial vehicle users plus public transport owners

Action: Identify the main users / owners of petrol and diesel commercial vehicles

and consider their likely needs and options. Contact Arriva and other bus/coach and taxi companies

Local Authorities

OBJECTIVE: Seek support (and clarify any limitations) from OCC, SODC and other competent bodies

Action: Progress the following:

  • Promote the ‘cleaner, greener Thame’
    message and principles with all relevant authorities
  • Engage at an early stage with SODC/OCC re parking/road/ highway strategies
  • Identify councillors and others able to help

4. Refine the vision and strategy

OBJECTIVE: To refine the outline vision and draft strategy for Thame transport based on findings to date

Action: Progress the following

  • Review all information received
  • Consider other responses received to date
  • Refine vision in light of findings

5. Consultation and updated thinking

OBJECTIVE: To assess community readiness for change and preference for options available to inform new transport strategy for Thame

Action: Progress the following

  • Set up consultation sessions/ surveys for views on vision, proposals and options
  • Summarise responses for transport strategy
  • Communicate findings to all

6. New Clean Air Transport strategy

OBJECTIVE: Establish new ‘green’ transport strategy for Thame to cover designated key areas.

Action: Finalise the green transport strategy in light of all information and responses received

3.4 Consideration of Community and Infrastructure Projects

Traffic Calming

OBJECTIVE: Slower and smoother running traffic to improve safety, reduce vehicle pollution and enhance the amenities of the town centre.

Action: Consider the following options:

  • 20 mph zone in central and other congested areas
  • Remove speed humps in High Street
  • Fewer turn-offs and pullouts
  • Better parking (see right)

Parking and pollution


Reduce the High Street pollution caused by parking & waiting / manoeuvring to park

Create a new cleaner and greener town centre without requiring major structural change

Avoid growing frustration by strengthening illegal parking enforcement.

Action: Investigate the feasibility and support for following options for Lower High Street (by Town Hall):

  • No queuing permitted for parking spaces
  • Realign parking (perhaps centrally) to enable fewer movements
    (perhaps in conjunction with a High Street one-way system)
  • Reduce number of parking spaces on the High Street itself
  • Reduce parking time to 1 hr max to free spaces
  • Prohibition on idling for cars, buses and trucks
  • Limit parking to disabled and electric cars
  • Consider steps needed to enforce effective control of the chosen options

Traffic Zone Options


Restrict the number or type of vehicles allowed to travel into or through the town centre, while ensuring adequate parking close to shops and town centre facilities for those who need it.

Achieve less pollution, more pavement space, greater safety and add to town centre vitality

Action: Investigate the feasibility and support for following options (and similar):

  • One-way system in all or part of Lower High Street and surrounding roads
  • Access to town centre but restrict ability to drive through the centre
  • Prohibit any vehicles except electric or mobility vehicles or disabled badge holders
    from accessing the town centre

Shared streets and broader pavement options

OBJECTIVE: Create safer, healthier and more pleasant conditions for walking/ cycling/ leisure in and around town centre.

Action: Investigate the feasibility and support for following options

  • Priority for those on foot or bike
  • Segregated cycle lane
  • Wider pavements
  • More space for meeting and outdoor seating

3.5 Ideas for the future

The town centre we wish to have in 2030

OBJECTIVE: Start the thinking early so that developments can take place in a timely and coordinated way.

Action: Review clean air and transport plan ideas with proposals for cleaner, safer walking and cycling, safe mobility scooter and electric vehicle use, more greenery and an open and vibrant town centre area for a broad range of uses and activities.

Working towards carbon neutrality for Thame


Establish a realistic target date for carbon neutrality and how this can be achieved

Recognise that this will be a significant commitment which will need careful analysis and planning

Action: Pursue specific recommended actions in this plan to contribute to decarbonisation

Action: Set up

  • a comprehensive carbon audit or similar exercise to establish the main local sources of carbon emissions
  • suitable metrics to measure and monitor ongoing levels practical implementation steps & timelines
  • suitable links with local authority and government policies and initiatives