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Archive - Wednesday, 30 November 2005
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'Clean up city's air pollution'
Oxford pollution expert Roger Pitman has called for greater coordination between residents and councils to solve the city's chronic air quality problem.
People living in the city have until Friday to have their say on an action plan to tackle Oxford's filthy air.
The city council is consulting on plans to reduce traffic pollution in the city centre, where air quality standards are being breached.
For months the Town Hall and Oxfordshire County Council have argued over how severe the problem of air quality in Oxford is, with no firm agreement.
Pollution monitoring officials now want residents to comment on the city council's draft action plan, which aims to rid the centre of dangerous fumes, improve air quality and clean up the streets.
It warns that nitrogen oxide emissions (NOx) have to be slashed by 68 per cent to meet air quality targets and recommends that Oxford's most polluted streets -- designated as air quality management areas -- should become so-called Low Emission Zones (LEZ) where sub-standard buses are banned.
This suggestion follows a street-by-street investigation of air quality, which found more than 75 per cent of traffic-generated emissions in the city came from buses, coaches and heavy vehicles.
Mr Pitman said: "Traffic emissions are the real issue but there is no one single thing that can be easily done.
"We need to look at air quality as an indicator of whether or not congestion is being controlled, we can't just look at things in isolation.
"What we have to do is coordinate a lot more between the city and county council to make sure things are pulled together so we can target air quality and traffic congestion.
"It's come to the point where there needs to be a unified approach -- that's the only thing that will deliver in the long run."
This year, a series of reports from organisations ranging from Calor Gas to the Chartered Society of Physiotherapists branded Oxford's air among the dirtiest in the country.
Tory county councillor David Robertson, cabinet member for transport, has called for a debate on the quality of air, but said "it must be based on the real, current situation, not on over-dramatised and sens- ationalised reports from organisations who are out to promote their own causes."
For more information visit www.oxford.gov.uk/services/air-quality-action-plan