DISTRICT council leaders say they want to keep “business as usual”, and claim they can meet clean air compliance levels by next year.

Discussing the authority’s draft plans – which will be signed off by its Cabinet next Tuesday (December 18), New Forest District Council’s special Environment Overview and Scrutiny Committee heard that taking no additional action on its air quality would still mean it would reach government pollution targets.

Once signed off, the plans are due to be sent to central government on December 31.

It comes as the council has been tasked, along with Southampton City Council, by Westminster to lower the level of nitrogen dioxide levels in the area to the compliance level of below 40 micrograms per cubic air metre.

However, the district authority’s plan is only for a small section of road – 800m of the A35 as it leaves Southampton towards Totton – and its plan is an addition to the city council’s.

The meeting heard that that stretch of road – as measured by council equipment – is currently just over the 40mg level, and will be at 35.8mg by the end of next year. In 2015, the level was measured at 44.1mg.

Southampton’s draft plan is due to be revealed to the public on January 16 at its Overview and Scrutiny Panel.

Speaking at the meeting, chairman Councillor Steve Rippon-Swaine said: “I think the work has looked down at this in very fine detail and the plan is very good.

“We’re properly tackling this in the best way possible.”

The draft plan also looked at the roads around the A35, such as the A326 and A36, to see if other roads were also above the 40mg level. But it was found they were not.

As reported, Southampton’s draft plan, which will be announced next month, could include a commercially charging clean air zone in the city boundaries. If the chargeable zone is implemented, lorries, buses and coaches could all be billed up to £100 a day to enter the city.