Oxford City Council has received over £200,000 of funding from the Government’s Air Quality Grant to support two new projects to further improve Oxford’s air quality.
The funding will enable the Council to create an air quality website in partnership with the district councils in Oxfordshire, and to run a citywide behaviour change campaign that will draw attention to the importance of the domestic combustion sector and how it contributes to air pollution levels in Oxford.
The Air Quality Grant helps councils to develop and implement air quality measures that benefit local communities and reduce the impact air pollution has on people’s health.
Air Quality Community Website
The Council has been awarded £162,500 to develop an air quality community website to help raise awareness of air pollution across Oxfordshire.
The project will work in partnership with neighbouring district councils - Cherwell, West Oxfordshire, South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse, along with Oxfordshire County Council.
Once developed, the website will provide air quality evidence, information and advice in a simple and accessible manner to all Oxfordshire visitors and residents. The information provided will span a wide range of air quality subjects and will be tailored to and for different age groups and levels of expertise.
The delivery of this website is a part of the recent list of air quality actions outlined in the Council’s Air Quality Action Plan (AQAP). Adopted in January 2021, the AQAP outlines the steps the Council will take to improve air quality from 2021 to 2025.
In January the Council set its own voluntary target to cut emissions of harmful Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) to 30 µg/m3 by 2025. This goes beyond the current legal target set by the UK Government of 40 µg/m3. The website will support the Plan’s aims to improve air quality communication and messaging.
Particulate Matter Campaign
The City Council has also been awarded £45,000 to raise awareness of Particulate Matter (PM) and to get residents to reduce their pollution levels.
PM is a pollutant made up of small particles such as dust, dirt, soot, or smoke. The Council’s latest source apportionment study (SAS) highlights that emissions from burning fuel at residential homes contribute to 66% of the city’s PM.2.5 emissions.
The campaign will aim to provide information on how residents can properly use open fires and wood-burning stoves and how to reduce the burning of incorrect fuel.
It will raise awareness of the link between wood-burning and air pollution, and the direct impact this pollution can have on public health.
Oxford’s Air Quality
Oxford has been historically subject to poor air quality. It was declared an air quality management area in September 2010 due to high levels of NO2.
Over the past decade, NO2 levels in Oxford have decreased by 29%. However, there has been a plateauing trend observed since 2018.
This lack of change in Oxford’s pollution levels demonstrates the need for continued action to improve air quality.
Both of the air quality projects funded by the government will support the reduction in air pollution and support the Council in working towards a cleaner, safer environment for its residents. This includes the delivery of the Council’s Air Quality Action Plan.
"We're pleased to secure significant funding to make Oxford's air cleaner through two new projects. I'm particularly pleased that we have received funding to address Particulate Matter to help residents to reduce their pollution levels.
“Air pollution weakens lungs and cuts short life and quality of life. To meet this public health imperative, the Council has become the first in the country to set a much tougher air quality target than the Government's own. Oxford's new air quality projects will strengthen and diversify the community campaign for cleaner air."
Councillor Tom Hayes, Oxford City Council’s Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Green Transport and Zero Carbon Oxford
“Air quality can affect everyone, but how and where it affects residents is best judged by people themselves using up-to-date data. The improvements to the Oxfordshire Air Quality website, which this grant will help fund, will mean more people can easily access such vital information about the air they breathe."
Councillor Catherine Webber, Vale of White Horse District Council’s Cabinet Member for Climate Emergency and Environment
“By having a clearer and more user friendly website monitoring air quality in Oxfordshire everyone will be able to see precisely and consistently where the worst issues are. We can then concentrate efforts and resources to improve air quality at those places.”
Councillor David Rouane, South Oxfordshire District Council’s Cabinet Member for Housing and Environment
“Even though we live in a predominantly rural district, there are significant air quality issues, particularly in our town centres.
“The new website will highlight these problems and help us find ways of tackling them. It also forms part of our commitment to combating climate change.”
Councillor Norman MacRae, West Oxfordshire District Council’s Cabinet Member for the Environment
“This extra funding for air quality schemes in Oxfordshire is great news. We look forward to working with Oxford City Council and the other four district councils in the county to develop the new air quality website which will be a fantastic resource for Oxfordshire residents.”
Councillor Yvonne Constance OBE, Oxfordshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Environment
“We know that air quality in certain parts of Cherwell district is a concern for residents. Providing them with a reliable and up to date information about air quality through a new website will help empower those who are concerned and raise awareness of the issues more widely.”
Councillor Dan Sames, Cherwell District Council’s Lead Member for Clean and Green