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Air pollution in Oxfordshire – what can we do about it now and how?

Current levels of air pollution in Oxfordshire are dangerously high. 

We are 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.

What else can we do?

The Oxfordshire Clean Air action Group welcomed Ted Burke, Activism Coordinator for Friends of the Earth’s Clean Air campaign at a meeting convened by Oxford Friends of the Earth to talk about how we campaign locally and discuss what actions we may want to take to urgently tackle air pollution in Oxfordshire.

Friends of the Earth’s Campaigning Guides for Local Action, an online resource available to the public, was introduced to us and specifically, the Clean Air campaign local action guide.

Friends of the Earth Clean Air

In this guide you’ll find handy tips and resources to support all kinds of local and national activities that will help the UK to ditch diesel, such as:

  • Helping to monitor air pollution near you
  • Joining with others locally to lobby your local decision makers, organise public meetings or car-free days.
  • Working with schools to protect the lungs of children
  • Helping to spread the word to increase awareness and support for cleaner air
  • And of course, coming up with your own ideas and activities to support the cause

If you’re new to campaigning or new to the issue of air pollution, this pack has everything you need to get started. And if you’re a seasoned air pollution campaigner, we hope you’ll find some fresh ideas, resources and tactics.

Clean air guide contents:

  • Welcome to clean air
  • Pollution: the truth
  • The solution
  • What can you do
  • Inspiring stories
  • Contact, resources & info

We discussed possible actions that we may wish to further explore/take:

  • Measure air quality – evidence to make more effective change
  • Engage with councils
    • County council, drawing together (City, Districts) – should we focus on one thing or lots? (e.g. including planning concerns – housing developments with no infrastructure)
    • Pressure on County council – hustings around local elections
  • Eye-catching events
  • Street parties – engaging the public – having conversations – groundswell to council(s)
  • Street closures – car-free day
  • Stunts – at landmarks around oxford – talking to people about what they would and wouldn’t accept
  • Linking to the NHS, health
  • Schools
    • Get interest from local solar schools – grassroots understanding, awareness raising
    • School run focus – walking buses
  • ‘Bottom-up’ approach – individual actions needed for greater behaviour change
  • Look at transport on the whole, not just diesel – climate impact
  • Publicising cuts to bus services
  • Look into tax incentives for diesels – diesel vehicles ‘better to drive’
  • Pollution from wood burning stoves
  • Be ambitious as possible – go further than what’s in the motion and a good grassroots push
  • Take it all away and look at it – raising awareness – actions for individuals
  • Collaborative action
  • Work for big lasting change

About the Oxfordshire Clean Air Action Group

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.

The Oxfordshire Clean Air Action Group has been set up by Oxford Friends of the Earth to push for action. We want:

  • 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.

Contact us to find out more and get involved.

Visit the the Facebook page.

Follow us on Twitter: Oxford Friends of the Earth.

Oxfordshire Clean Air Action