Oxford City Council has issued a statement to the Environment Secretary Michael Gove calling for a 10-point contract between the government and local authorities to help tackle air pollution in urban areas.
Under their plan more powers and funding would be provided to empower local authorities to keep levels of air pollution below the safe and legal limits.
The plan was sent to Michael Gove by Tom Hayes, Oxford Council’s Board Member for a Safer and Greener Environment, and calls for the government to;
- End the sale of all new polluting vehicles earlier than 2040.
- Install infrastructure to accelerate the uptake of electric vehicles.
- Revise vehicle Excise Duty to incentivise the purchase of new and second-hand zero emissions vehicles.
- Revise the standard driving licence to increase the maximum payload of light goods vehicles.
- Implement a polluting vehicles scrappage scheme.
- Put equity to those on low incomes at the very heart of the approach.
- Tighten clean air standards in line with the latest scientific evidence.
- Take into account Oxford’s local data for developing national air quality measures.
- Establish an independent watchdog to enforce air quality measures after leaving the EU.
- Launch a public health campaign to highlight the dangers of air pollution and the health benefits of switching to electric vehicles.
Councillor Hayes said that “There is no safe level of air pollution… [it] is an invisible killer, and we want to work with the Government to accelerate our pollution protection”, describing current levels of air pollution as “a clear health injustice” in which “the poorest in our communities… are hit hardest by toxic pollution”.
He added that “It doesn’t have to be this way. Mr Gove has the chance to put the health of towns and cities across the UK first by signing up to our 10-point contract.”
The proposals follow new data showing that air pollution in Oxford fell by 22.7% between 2016 and 2017, but that four of the city’s monitoring areas still registered toxic levels of nitrogen dioxide.
Air pollution currently plays a role in 40,000 deaths a year in the UK, and health experts have warned that there is no safe level of nitrogen dioxide.
Last year, Oxford City Council announced new proposals to introduce the world’s first Zero Emission Zone in the city centre, and has secured £3.5 million in government funding to help achieve this.
The City Council has yet to receive a response from Michael Gove or his office.