Southampton joins Oxford in the fight against dirty air by signing Cleaner Air Charter

Published: Monday, 8th October 2018

Southampton is the first city to join Oxford in calling on the Government to put the health of communities first by signing the Cleaner Air Charter.

In August, the Cleaner Air Charter created by Oxford City Council was launched. It is believed to be the first formal cooperation between Greenpeace UK, and Friends of the Earth to be led by a local authority.

Southampton City Council leader, Christopher Hammond signed the charter – making Southampton the first local authority to support the Cleaner Air Charter.

The charter calls on the Government to:

  1. Remove the most polluting vehicles from most polluting parts of towns and cities.
  2. Provide greater investment in public transport, walking and cycling infrastructure.
  3. End the sale of all new petrol and diesel cars and vans earlier than 2040.
  4. Provide fiscal incentives to help people and businesses adopt cleaner vehicles.
  5. Invest in charging infrastructure and the supporting power network.
  6. Ensure fossil fuels do not generate the power used to fuel electrified vehicles.
  7. Tighten legal limits on air pollution to match World Health Organisation guideline levels.
  8. Improve the national monitoring and modelling of air pollution.
  9. Adopt a new Clean Air Act, or equivalent for 21st century and independent watchdog with teeth.
  10. Launch a national public health campaign and alert system to highlight the dangers of air pollution.

Data published by the Committee on the Medical Effects of Air Pollutants (COMEAP) estimated that between 28,000 and 36,000 premature deaths in the UK every year could be linked to long-term exposure to air pollution. Health experts have warned that there is no safe level of Nitrogen Dioxide.

In June Oxford City Council wrote to the Environment Secretary Michael Gove to call for a 10-point contract with local authorities to provide more powers and funding to tackle toxic air pollution.

Last year, Oxford City Council and Oxfordshire County Council announced proposals to introduce the world’s first Zero Emission Zone in Oxford city centre in stages between 2020 and 2035.

Councillor Tom Hayes, Board Member for A Cleaner and Greener Environment, Oxford City Council, said: “It’s fantastic news that Southampton will be the first local authority to sign up to Oxford’s Cleaner Air Charter. Local authorities can only do so much within the legislative and funding framework set by Government.

“Together, Oxford and Southampton are telling Michael Gove loudly and clearly that we need more money and stronger powers to achieve the best for people in our cities.

“Everyone has the right to breathe clean air. This Charter calls on Government to take ten radical steps to put the health of communities first. With the support of Southampton, Oxford seeks to protect all of our citizens, especially the poorest and most vulnerable whose health disproportionately bears the harms of air pollution.

“We call on other local authorities to sign the Cleaner Air Charter.”

Councillor Christopher Hammond, Leader of Southampton City Council, said: “Air Pollution is one of the top public health crises of our time. None of us have a choice in what we breathe in and when the air is polluted, it can cause all manner of serious health issues. In Southampton we’re committed to clean air, and are taking bold action to make this a reality. But councils cannot deliver change solely on our own. This is a national problem and needs strong governmental leadership.

“Which is why Oxford City Council’s Cleaner Air Charter is so important and why I’m proud that Southampton City Council is the founding signatory to support this call for action. By working together, we can help to deliver positive change for all our communities.”