Pupils to help raise awareness and tackle air quality around Oxford’s schools

Published: Wednesday, 8th June 2016

Oxford’s pupils and students are being offered the opportunity to measure the air quality around their schools, thanks to Oxford City Council.

The City Council is launching a scheme that will see up to six schools given air quality measuring equipment, along with technical support to use them together with a programme of education to tie in to their curriculum.

Earlier this week, the Council wrote to all Oxford head teachers offering them the opportunity to be part of the exciting new scheme.

A similar project was carried out in London in 2014. This project saw students measure air quality around their schools, then run a campaign to encourage their parents to stop using cars on the school run. The campaign saw car travel reduced by 35 per cent with resultant improvement in air quality.

It is hoped Oxford’s schools will run a similar campaign in order to take local action to help improve air quality.

The air quality in Oxford, although improving, is still failing the European Union-set standards. Every year thousands of people in the UK are known to die prematurely due to the effects of air pollution. Thousands more have to be admitted to hospital.

Oxford City Council is responsible for monitoring air quality in the city and developing plans to meet the Air Quality Objectives. The government is responsible for meeting the EU standards, while Oxfordshire County Council is the transport authority with control over transport initiatives.

Despite this limited remit, Oxford City Council goes above and beyond to tackle air quality in the city.

The City Council has jointly implemented the Low Emission Zone, which requires city centre buses to be low emission; it has won government money to install electric vehicle charging points in residential areas; and has led by example by converting part of its fleet to low emission and electric vehicles.

Councillor John Tanner, Executive Board Member for a Clean and Green Oxford, said: “Getting the kids in school to measure our air quality is a sure-fire way of getting their parents behind cleaner air for Oxford too.

“The City Council is leading the way when it comes to tackling air quality in Oxford but we can’t do it on our own. Everyone from the youngest to the oldest must play their part to make Oxford’s air even cleaner.

“Everyday decisions have a real impact on Oxford’s air quality – cycling and walking to school instead of jumping into the car can really help reduce air pollution.”