Oxford City Council has written to the Chancellor of the Exchequer to ask him to make bold policy announcements to help tackle Oxford’s toxic and illegal air pollution in his upcoming Budget.
Councillor Bob Price, Leader of Oxford City Council, wrote to the Chancellor, Philip Hammond, last week.
He called for Mr Hammond to increase vehicle exercise duty on new diesel vehicles from April 2018, and then use the money raised to help fund a diesel scrappage scheme for those on low incomes.
A scrappage scheme would see drivers financially compensated for scrapping their diesel vehicle and replacing it with a more environmentally-friendly version.
Councillor Price said the policies combined would “help people move away from their diesel vehicle to a cleaner option”, adding that local initiatives, such as Oxford’s Zero Emission Zone proposals, would be “far more successful if they are supported by bold national policy changes to diesel taxation”.
The Chancellor will present his Autumn Budget to Parliament on Wednesday 22 November.
Despite a 36.9 per cent reduction in nitrogen dioxide (NO2) levels across Oxford in the last decade, parts of the city centre are still failing to meet legal targets on the harmful pollutant.
Oxford City Council and Oxfordshire County Council are currently consulting on proposals to introduce the world’s first Zero Emission Zone in Oxford. The proposals, which would be phased between 2020 and 2035, would cut NO2 levels by up to 74 per centre.
In June, the City Council wrote to the Government to ask for more funding and powers to tackle air pollution in Oxford.
The City Council, supported by the County Council, has already received £500,000 of Government funding to install charging points for electric taxis and £800,000 of Government funding to install 100 electric vehicle charging points for Oxford residents.
The Royal College of Physicians and the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health found, in a 2016 report, that air pollution contributes to cancer, asthma, stroke and heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and changes linked to dementia. It found that, each year in the UK, outdoor air pollution causes around 40,000 deaths.
In his letter to the Chancellor, Councillor Price said: “Air pollution is at crisis levels in our towns and cities. Road vehicles contribute about 80 per cent of nitrogen dioxide pollution at the roadside and diesel vehicles make up a big part of this.
“Children born this year are likely to face another 10 years of poor air quality under current plans. This could have a devastating effect on their health – it could stunt their lung growth and leave them with long term health problems.
“Not only is diesel harmful for our health, it’s expensive – it’s estimated that air pollution is costing the Treasury around £20 billion a year. I urge you to use this Budget to put in place bold fiscal policies that will help tackle this health crisis.”
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