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Taskforce to tackle Oxfords most polluted street

Oxford city council and Oxfordshire county council have set up a joint working group to look at measures to address air pollution in St Clement’s Street – which has been dubbed ‘Oxford’s most polluted street’.

The average nitrogen dioxide level in St Clement’s Street in 2016 was 61µg/m3 – 152.5% of the legal limit of 40µg/m3 the city council has reported.

High buildings and a narrow road space contribute to high air pollution levels on St Clement’s Street, the councils have claimed

Formation of the working group comes after the councils announced joint proposals for a ‘Zero Emission Zone’ in central Oxford (see airqualitynews.com story).

The Zero Emission Zone proposals will reduce air pollution in Oxford city centre by up to 74%, the councils claim, but the proposed zone does not cover St Clement’s Street.

The working group will look at the sources of pollution and develop targeted proposals to improve air quality in the area.

Congestion

This will also complement ongoing work by Oxfordshire county council to explore “demand management optionsâ€? for Oxford including a potential Congestion Charge and Workplace Parking Levy. These measures are aimed at reducing traffic and congestion in the city and would also improve air quality.

Nitrogen dioxide in the St Clement’s Street will only drop below the legal limit (to 34µg/m3) in 2035 it is thought.

Oxfordshire county council is the transport authority in charge of roads and transport links in the region, while Oxford city council has a legal duty to monitor and report on air pollution.

The two authorities have worked together on a series of measures to tackle air pollution in Oxford, including introducing the award-winning Low Emission Zone in 2011, winning £500,000 of government funding to install charging points for electric taxis and winning £800,000 of government funding to install 100 electric vehicle charging points for Oxford residents.

‘Step change’

Councillor John Tanner, Oxford city council’s executive board member for a clean and green Oxford, said: “The Zero Emission Zone will be a step change in tackling air pollution in Oxford. But there is a particular problem in St Clement’s Street because it is so narrow with high buildings and is used by a large volume of traffic.

“It is entirely right that the county and city councils together should look at the particular pollution problems of St Clement’s Street. We need to bring pollution levels there below the safe and legal limit as soon as possible to safeguard everyone’s health.

“Local residents living in Oxford’s most polluted street have understandably raised concerns with ward members and the City Council. This working group has been set up as a direct response to those and our own concerns about the toxic air pollution in St Clement’s Street.â€?

Councillor Yvonne Constance, Oxfordshire county council’s cabinet member for transport, said: “There is a great deal of innovative work being done to improve transport across Oxfordshire at the moment and I am delighted that we are working so closely with the City Council for better air quality in the city.

“The Zero Emission Zone will ultimately bring benefits for areas inside and outside the zone, but right now there are places like St Clement’s Street where we really need to focus on solutions that will have an effect sooner.â€?

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