Southampton joins Oxford in demanding clean air action

Southampton city council has signed up to Oxford’s Cleaner Air Charter, an initiative launched in August 2018 by Oxford city council in partnership with Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace UK (see airqualitynews.com story).

The charter calls for the Government to take ten bold steps to address damaging levels of air pollution including greater investment in public transport and tighter legal limits on emissions (see below).

Southampton is the first local authority to join Oxford in this endeavour and now Oxford is urging more local authorities to sign up.

‘Serious’

Councillor Christopher Hammond, leader of Southampton city council, said that air pollution was one of the top public health issues at present, causing “all manner of serious health issues”.

Southampton

Southampton’s Itchen Bridge with a cruise ship in the background

He said: “In Southampton we’re committed to clean air, and are taking bold action to make this a reality. But councils cannot deliver change solely on our own. This is a national problem and needs strong governmental leadership.

“Which is why Oxford city council’s Cleaner Air Charter is so important and why I’m proud that Southampton city council is the founding signatory to support this call for action. By working together, we can help to deliver positive change for all our communities.”

The charter calls on the Government to:

  1. Remove the most polluting vehicles from most polluting parts of towns and cities.
  2. Provide greater investment in public transport, walking and cycling infrastructure.
  3. End the sale of all new petrol and diesel cars and vans earlier than 2040.
  4. Provide fiscal incentives to help people and businesses adopt cleaner vehicles.
  5. Invest in charging infrastructure and the supporting power network.
  6. Ensure fossil fuels do not generate the power used to fuel electrified vehicles
  7. Tighten legal limits on air pollution to match World Health Organisation guideline levels.
  8. Improve the national monitoring and modelling of air pollution.
  9. Adopt a new Clean Air Act, or equivalent for 21st century and independent watchdog with teeth.
  10. Launch a national public health campaign and alert system to highlight the dangers of air pollution.

Contract

In June, Oxford city council wrote to Environment Secretary Michael Gove to call for a 10-point contract with local authorities to provide more powers and funding to tackle air pollution.

And, in 2017 the local authority teamed up with Oxfordshire county council to announce plans for the worlds first Zero Emission Zone in Oxford city centre.

“Fantastic”

Councillor Tom Hayes, board member for a cleaner and greener environment at Oxford city council, said: “It’s fantastic news that Southampton will be the first local authority to sign up to Oxford’s Cleaner Air Charter. Local authorities can only do so much within the legislative and funding framework set by Government.

“Together, Oxford and Southampton are telling Michael Gove loudly and clearly that we need more money and stronger powers to achieve the best for people in our cities.”

Going forward, councillor Hayes urged more councils to follow Southampton’s lead.

He said: “We call on other local authorities to sign the Cleaner Air Charter.”