Oxford Friends of the Earth believes that it is time for some real action - Sign the Oxfordshire Clean Air Charter!
The Oxfordshire Clean Air Charter sets out the steps that should be taken to make Oxfordshire a clean air county. It has been developed by Oxford Friends of the Earth with support from several other organisations. Any organisation of individual can sigh and endorse the Charter. CLICK HERE to read the Oxfordshire Clean Air Charter.
Our ambition for change is to make Oxfordshire a clean-air county, meaning that: • All areas should be at ‘safe’ levels (by World Health Organisation standards) by the end of 2020* • Air pollution-related mortality should fall by at least 50% by 2030
The Charter calls upon the County, City and District Councils to agree and implement policies on the following issues:
- Control polluting vehicles
- Promote a long-term shift from car use to more sustainable forms of transport
- Create safe streets for walking and cycling
- Invest in improving public transport across the county
Regarding air pollution, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has set internationally agreed limits available here. Small particulate pollution have health impacts even at very low concentrations – indeed no threshold has been identified below which no damage to health is observed. Therefore, the WHO 2005 guideline limits aimed to achieve the lowest concentrations of PM possible (WHO website, 2018).
In May 2016 the World Health Organization (WHO) put Oxford in a list of 10 UK towns and cities including London and Glasgow that are failing to meet air quality standards. There has been work to improve the situation but pollution levels are still too high in many parts of the city and in places across the county. Public Health England report that 5.3% of deaths in the county are attributable to particulate air pollution and many people suffer long-term ill-health that is made worse by pollution.
On 7 November 2017, we presented our petition with over 1400 signatures of support to Oxfordshire County Council calling for all our local councils to develop a strong action programme that will deliver the changes we need to ensure that we have air that meets WHO standards by 2020.
Jacky Penning-Rowsell of Oxford Friends of the Earth spoke at the November County Council meeting, reminding everyone of the health impacts and mortalities arising from air pollution now. Oxford Friends of the Earth's position is that whilst measures such as the proposed Oxford Zero Emission Zone are very welcome, serious action cannot wait until 2020 or 2035. The County Council unanimously passed a motion that they would work with all the district councils to reduce air pollution. Oxford Friends of the Earth will, of course, continue to monitor developments and maintain pressure for urgent action.
Oxford Friends of the Earth member, Chris Church states “There are 14 Air Quality Management Areas (AQMAs) across Oxfordshire, backed by hard evidence, that fail to meet national objectives. We need positive action firstly to tackle these AQMAs and improve health. New evidence shows that Oxford has problems on the scale of London in terms of particulate pollution. A new programme will need resources, but it’s about better and more targeted use of those resources, about better coordination and about a readiness to take what may be hard decisions on traffic management, as many other cities have already done."
We've also set up The Oxfordshire Clean Air Action Group and we invite you to join! We want to see:
- Policy change - We will be lobbying policy-makers at a national, county and city level. Oxfordshire County Council bears a particular responsibility as the authority leading on transport issues for the county.
- Community action - Every community can play a part by helping people understand and engage with the issues. Pollution levels vary widely across the county – those areas that are ‘hot spots’ need support to tackle the local problems.
- Individual action - Everyone contributes at some level to air pollution – it’s up to all of us to play our part in cutting pollution.
Email us and we'll keep you updated.
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