The whole of Worcester will become an air quality management area.

The decision was made by councillors on Worcester City Council’s Licensing and Environmental Health Committee this week.

The members were given five different options by officers, with the preferred option being declaring the city centre including St John’s an AQMA.

But they rejected that for the more radical choice of declaring the entire city administrative area as a management area, even though there are some areas where air quality is not below legal levels.

Existing AQMA declarations for St John’s,Dolday and Lowesmoor/Rainbow Hill will be revoked as they are covered by the new area.

This has the advantage, according to the report of giving the authority: “the freedom to prioritise air quality improvements where it considers there to be the greatest need for improvement. It Provides an opportunity for air quality impacts to be given greater priority through the panning regime in these wider areas.”

One of the drawbacks is that it encompasses areas where air quality is not a problem inside the city boundaries.

Councillor Joy Squires approved of the decision. She said: “We felt going for the city-wide option was better because changes in one part of the city will have an impact on the city centre and this gives us the flexibility to look at the full range of options for solutions.”

The councillors also asked the authority’s officers to speak to neighbouring councils at Wychavon and Malvern Hills about working together on the issue

Deputy chairman of the committee, Councillor Allah Dittah said: “I suggested that we go for that option because it means we can work with all the stakeholders, like Wychavon and Malvern Hills and get them all on board.”

Cllr Squires didn’t want to pre-empt the work of the authority’s councillor task and finish group which is looking at air quality in suggesting possible measures but added: “That group has started work and will be looking at all the available options.

“There was heavy fog in Worcester and anyone in the city would be very aware that it takes very little for vehicle fumes to have a real impact on breathability. ”