REDUCTIONS in Oxford air pollution levels have fallen ten fold, new data suggests.

According to Oxford City Council, using statistics from 72 air pollution monitors, levels of toxic nitrogen dioxide (NO2) decreased by an average of 0.23 per cent between 2017 and 2018 –a starkly slower rate than 2016-17, when it fell by 22.7 per cent.

A three-year plateau occurred between 2014 and 2016, before Oxford’s bus operators upgraded to cleaner Euro 6 engines – which is thought to have caused the steep reduction in Oxford air pollution between 2016 and 2017.

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Earlier this month, Oxford City Council and Oxfordshire County Council announced plans to introduce a new Low Emission Zone (LEZ) for buses, requiring all buses to be a minimum of Euro 6 standard. The new Low Emission Zone will come into force from December 2020.

In January this year Oxford City Council and Oxfordshire County Council announced updated proposals for a Zero Emission Zone in Oxford city centre, which could be introduced in a phased approach from 2020.

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Over the past decade, air pollution levels in Oxford have decreased by 36.8 per cent, according to the council.

The new data is from Oxford City Council’s Air Quality Annual Status Report, released ahead of Clean Air Day.

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Oxford City Council has been monitoring and reviewing air quality in Oxford since 1999. In 2010, the whole of the city of Oxford was declared as an Air Quality Management Area (AQMA) and an Air Quality Action Plan (AQAP) was adopted by the Council in 2013.

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Councillor Tom Hayes, Cabinet Member for Zero Carbon Oxford, said: “Oxford is now breathing the cleanest air ever. However, new figures released today confirm that we have to do more to ensure everyone in our city can breathe the cleanest air.

"Our 2014 Low Emission Zone has significantly reduced emissions from buses but we must do more with our Zero Emission Zone to further clean up our buses, ensure our Hackney Cabs are zero emissions capable, and restrict polluting vehicles from the city centre.

Oxford Mail:

Mr Hayes continued: "Top researchers are clear that there can be no safe limit of air pollution, so, as well as increasing our efforts here in Oxford, we'll be continuing to shape Government as it writes a new air quality law.

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"Councils like Oxford cannot not allow this once-in-a-generation chance to secure more money and powers to slip through our fingers."