Residents across Oxfordshire are being asked to help shape a new air quality community website, which will help to raise awareness and understanding of air pollution across the county.
In March 2021, Oxford City Council was awarded £162,500 to develop an air quality community website to help raise awareness of air pollution across Oxfordshire.
The website - which is being created in partnership between Oxford City, Oxfordshire County Council, Cherwell, West Oxfordshire, South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse - aims to integrate all relevant air quality-related information from all district councils in Oxfordshire into a single site.
Now, residents across Oxfordshire are encouraged to take part in the consultation and share their views on what information they want to see on the future website.
The consultation hosted on Oxford City Council’s consultation portal aims to identify what information residents across the county want to see on the new website to help them find more about air quality.
The information presented on the website will span a wide range of air quality subjects and will be tailored to and for different age groups and levels of expertise. This consultation aims to identify the key issues and best ways to present this information which can at times be complex.
The consultation is asking residents for their thoughts on how they currently engage with air quality-related messages, as well as their views on the website, including information such as data on current air pollution levels in their area, specific types of air pollutants, and regular news about air quality projects across the county.
Oxford has been historically subject to poor air quality. It was declared an air quality management area in September 2010 due to high levels of NO2.
The European Union has set a legal limit for the average limit of toxic nitrogen dioxide (NO2) levels in towns and cities of 40µg/m3 or below– however, recent studies seem to indicate that there is no safe limit for NO2.
Air pollution contributes to an increased chance of developing lung cancer, increased risk of heart disease and increases in asthma, coughs and bronchitis.
It is thought that air pollution is responsible for 64,000 deaths in Britain each year – just 18% less than the 78,000 deaths annually caused by tobacco (European Heart Journal, March 2019).
A January 2020 study from the Centre for Cities also found out that at least one in 17 deaths in Oxford is related to air pollution.
Health experts have warned that there is no safe level of air pollution.
The consultation to help shape the new Oxfordshire air quality website is hosted on Oxford City Council’s consultation portal and is open until midnight on 5 September 2021.
Councillor Pete Sudbury, Cabinet Member for Climate Change Delivery and Environment at Oxfordshire County Council, said: “Tackling air pollution and climate change is a huge priority for Oxfordshire County Council.
“We are now set to implement a series of bold plans to address these, for example, by giving people real choices around walking, cycling or using public transport rather than private cars and accelerating the shift to electric vehicles.
“We are keen to offer residents an easy-to-use source of information on air pollution in their area. We’d like to hear your views about how you’d like to see the data, so please offer your comments in this consultation by 05 September.”
Councillor Tom Hayes, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Green Transport and Zero Carbon Oxford, said: “We know that air pollution is a concern for many residents across the city and many struggle to find one source for information across the county.
“We hope to combine all the information into one, easy to access website that highlights the work of all the Councils across Oxfordshire. We want to find out what residents want to see on this website. I encourage anyone who is interested in this topic to have their say on our consultation portal.”
Councillor Dan Sames, Lead Member for Clean and Green at Cherwell District Council, said: “Air quality across Cherwell district is a concern to many but making all the latest data about it available will help empower those whom it affects and allow us to be transparent in how we are tackling problem areas.
“We are interested to know in how best to present this information on an air quality website to make it more useful to our residents, so we are encouraging everyone to have their say in the consultation.”
Councillor Catherine Webber, Cabinet Member Climate Emergency and Environment at Vale of White Horse District Council, said: “As part of our corporate priority to build healthy communities, it is our aim to improve air quality where people work and live.
“We know that many of our residents, particularly those living next to busy roads, have concerns about air pollution and the impact peoples’ health; and I’m sure they will welcome the new website and easy access to important air quality information.
“If you have any thoughts on the type of information that you’d like to see on the new site, we’d love to hear from you, so please let us know by submitting your comments via the online consultation.”
Councillor David Rouane, Cabinet Member for Housing and Environment at South Oxfordshire District Council, said: “As a council, one of our main priorities is to promote and encourage behavioural change to take action on the climate emergency.
“The new website will be a very useful and welcome resource for the people of Oxfordshire to find out more about the impact that our reliance on cars, in particular, can have on air quality in their local area.
“We are keen to ensure that it includes the information that residents want, so I would encourage everyone to take part in this consultation to ensure your views are heard.”