Air pollution responsible for 100 early deaths per year in Oxford

Responding to a new report [1] on air pollution by the Royal College of Physicians and the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, the Greens have taken the opportunity to highlight the continuing problem of air pollution in Oxford.

“The report”, says Green Councillor Craig Simmons and veteran air quality campaigner, “has found that air pollution is responsible for a least 40,000 early deaths a year across the UK at an estimated cost to the economy of £20bn. This equates to 100 early deaths in Oxford alone at a cost to the local economy of £50m.”

The report found unborn and young children were particularly susceptible to air pollution. “The developing heart, lung, brain, hormone systems and immunity can all be harmed by pollution,” the report said. “Research is beginning to point towards effects on growth, intelligence, asthma, and development of the brain and coordination. Harm to babies and children will have an impact that lasts far into the future.”
The latest City Council report on local air pollution, published in October 2015 [2], found that – although there have been modest improvements in air quality over the last decade, progress has been erratic with four of the nine originally identified pollution hotspots areas still regularly exceeding international limits. 
“Over the last decade we have seen air pollution levels in Oxford peak and trough. There is every chance that recent planning decisions by the Council - the Westgate and Northern Gateway get a special mention in the City report - could see pollution levels peak again.”
More than a decade on from the Green Party’s successful campaign to make Oxford an Air Quality Management Area, air quality targets [3] have still not been completely met and the Green Party’s 2004 10-point air quality action plan has still not been implemented in full. Adds Cllr Simmons, “Most importantly, we have yet to see Oxford designated as a low emission zone.” 
[3] Extract from Oxford Mail Archive 28th Aug. 2004
“Oxford's Green Party has drawn up a pollution-busting 10-point plan after the city topped the UK's pollution league in a survey.
1.More roadside emission checks of taxis and private vehicles to catch heavy polluters
2.All buses to be fitted with emission reduction technology such as particulate traps and NOx absorption systems. Buses to switch off engines when stationary
3.Stricter enforcement of city centre vehicle restriction points, including High Street
4.Promotion of alternative, low emission fuels such as bio-diesel and LPG
5.More trees and other planting to mitigate pollution
6.Introduction of centres on outskirts of city to avoid need for heavy delivery lorries to enter city centre. Smaller, low emission vans would take goods into city instead
7.Better promotion of cycling and walking
8.Expansion of pedestrianised area of city centre to include Queen Street.
9.Introduction of citywide 20mph speed limits
10.Increase city centre car parking charges in line with inflation to encourage more use of bus, train and park-and-ride car parks.”

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