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Oxford's Aggressive Efforts Lead to 8% Reduction in Air Pollution, Says Report

Jul 29, 2023Jul 29, 2023




A recent revelation suggests that Oxford, the renowned city of spires, has made considerable strides in combating air pollution, an increasing global concern. The city’s meticulous and aggressive efforts have led to a noteworthy reduction of approximately 8% in air pollution in 2022, as per the official figures released by Oxford City Council.

The Air Quality Report, annually published by the council, examined the levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2)—a critical marker of air pollution—across 127 distinct locations in the city. The results provide a hopeful indication that initiatives such as Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs) in East Oxford and the pioneering Zero Emission Zone (ZEZ) pilot program in the city centre are effectuating positive changes. According to a report by

Along with these encouraging figures, the Oxfordshire County Council has also taken the lead, announcing a £200,000 strategic plan to further slash air pollution levels. While the city-wide average decrease in NO2 levels stands at a promising 8.3%, the report also highlights areas that exceeded the legal annual mean objective of 40 micrograms per cubic metre (µg/m3).

Despite slight increases in NO2 levels in some areas such as St. Clement’s Street and The Plain, these figures were relatively low compared to pre-pandemic times. Crucially, the LTNs and ZEZ initiatives are demonstrating significant impact. For instance, Divinity Road observed a drastic 33% fall in NO2 levels, substantiating the efficacy of the measures taken.

Anna Railton, the Climate Councillor, underscored the ongoing battle, stating, “There is ultimately no safe level of air pollution, and we must continue to take action to improve.” This view was echoed by Timothy Hinks, an Associate Professor of Respiratory Medicine at Oxford University, who emphasized the severe impact of air pollution on societal health and life expectancy.

The county council’s £200,000 plan, recognizing air pollution as a significant environmental threat to public health, aims to minimize emissions of indoor and outdoor air pollution, focusing especially on those most vulnerable. A multifaceted approach is being pursued with impacts on infrastructure and energy usage, with one of the central pillars being the Low Traffic Neighbourhood, known colloquially as a 15-minute neighbourhood.

This urban planning concept envisions a future where all essential facilities are within a 15-minute walking or cycling distance – however, some critics worry about its potential impacts on personal freedoms. As a result, bollards and planters used to establish LTNs have been subjected to vandalism during protests against the scheme. Oxford aspires to become a fully functioning 15-minute city by 2040.

Officials have been clear that there are no restrictions on movement within the model, only plans to enhance the proximity of amenities through garden-variety civic renewal schemes, and they are confident that the measures will ultimately enhance citizens’ quality of life and health.

Nevertheless, it’s clear that Oxford is providing a bold example of a jurisdiction willing to go the distance in the fight against air pollution. It remains to be seen, however, how much further it will go.



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Related Topics:Air Quality ReportAnna RailtonAssociate ProfessorBusiness NewsClimate CouncillorDivinity RoadEast OxfordEditionEnvea Completes The Acquisition Of Hycontrol LtdGas Measurement Industry IconLifeLow Traffic NeighbourhoodLow Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNMRU GmbHNew Home For Gas Sensor SpecialistsOxford City CouncilOxford UniversityOxfordshire County CouncilSK ElektonikTimothy HinksUmwelttechnik MCZ GmbH (MCZ)Zero Emission Zone (ZEZ)

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Oxford City CouncilAir Quality ReportEast OxfordDivinity RoadClimate CouncillorAssociate Professor of Respiratory MedicineOxford UniversityLow Traffic Neighbourhood