Councils appeal to Gove over air quality strategy

Two local authorities have appealed to the Environment Secretary, Michael Gove, to provide greater funding to councils to address air pollution and to tighten air quality standards after Brexit.

Oxford city council and the south London borough Lambeth have separately contacted the Secretary of State, to put forward proposals for addressing air quality in light of the publication of the government’s Clean Air Strategy in May (see story).

Environment Secretary Michael Gove

Oxford’s letter, written by the council’s executive board member for a safer and greener environment, Councillor Tom Hayes, sets out a list of ten policy recommendations from the authority which includes bringing forward the proposed 2040 date for ending the sale of conventional petrol and diesel cars.

The authority has also called for government to take into account local data from councils when developing national air quality measures.

According to the city council, the government “currently only uses Oxford’s three continuous monitoring stations to measure air pollution,” and does not take into account the city council’s 72 other monitoring locations.


Other measures endorsed by the local authority include a vehicle scrappage scheme, and a public health campaign to highlight the dangers of air pollution.

Councillor Hayes said: “There is no safe level of air pollution. Air pollution is an invisible killer, and we want to work with Government to accelerate our pollution protection because, for every day that we don’t, people will live in it, work in it and commute in it.

“Air pollution isn’t just an environmental concern. Nor is it simply a public health crisis. It’s a clear health injustice — everybody breathes the same air, but the poorest in our communities and the very vulnerable are hit hardest by toxic pollution.

Councillor Claire Holland, Lambeth council

“It doesn’t have to be this way. Mr Gove has the chance to put the health of towns and cities across the UK first by signing up to our 10-point contract and making the much-needed step-changes to accelerate the electric revolution.”

The south London borough of Lambeth has similarly called for a national clean air campaign in a petition to government launched by Councillor Claire Holland, the council’s cabinet member for environment and clean air.

According to the council, similar to anti drink driving and smoking campaigns, a national clean air education campaign will “highlight the dangers of air pollution and help citizens understand what they can do to improve air quality”.

Other measures that the council I calling for in its petition are increased funding for air quality measures, a 2030 target for the phase out of diesel and petrol only cars, and continuation of existing air quality standards post Brexit.

Calling upon residents and businesses to support the petition, Councillor Holland wrote: “All levels of government have a role in improving air quality and raising awareness about air pollution.

“The council is working hard alongside the Mayor of London, other local authorities and energetic campaign groups to tackle polluted air that is killing thousands of people every year. Urgent action is needed to ensure Lambeth citizens, especially our children who are some of the most vulnerable, breathe clean air.

“We simply do not believe this draft strategy goes far enough to combat poor air quality.”

Related Links
Oxford city council’s letter to Michael Gove
Lambeth council petition


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