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Council continues to target dangerous air pollution by signing Charter for Cleaner Air

News release from 24/01/2019

CAMBRIDGE City Council has signed up to the Oxford Charter for Cleaner Air, in order to urge the government to provide more backing to reduce dangerous air pollution.

The charter, which was launched by Oxford City Council, Greenpeace UK and Friends of the Earth, calls on the government to put the health of communities first, reduce illegal levels of pollution, and enable councils to do more to improve air quality and public health.

The charter asks the government to meet ten demands in order to cut air pollution and improve people’s health. These are:

  1. Show national leadership in removing the most polluting vehicles from the most polluted parts of our towns and cities to protect people’s health;
  2. Provide greater investment in public transport, walking and cycling infrastructure to give people real alternatives;
  3. End the sale of all new petrol and diesel vans earlier than 2040;
  4. Revise the tax regime and provide fiscal incentives to help people and businesses adopt cleaner vehicles;
  5. Accelerate the zero emission revolution by investing 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 safer WHO guideline levels;
  8. Improve the national monitoring and modelling of air pollution to show the true extent of the problem;
  9. Adopt a new Clean Air Act or equivalent fit for the 21st Century backed by an independent watchdog with teeth;
  10.  Launch a national public health campaign and alert system to highlight the dangers of air pollution.

Cambridge has become the fifth UK city council to sign up to the charter after Oxford, Southampton, Nottingham and Brighton and Hove.

Signing up for the charter consolidates the work the council is doing to improve air quality in the city, which includes introducing a new Air Quality Action Plan 2018-23.

The plan, which has been developed jointly with the Greater Cambridge Partnership and Cambridgeshire County Council and Public Health England, sets out priorities over the next five years, for improving areas of poor air quality and maintaining areas of good air quality across the city as it continues to grow.

Actions in the plan fall into three main categories: 

  1. Reducing local traffic emissions as quickly as possible to meet national objectives;
  2. Maintaining levels of pollutants below national objectives, including by using planning policies to ensure new communities are designed to make it easy for people to use environmentally-friendly modes of transport;
  3. Improving public health - educating people about the health impacts of air quality and encouraging them to make changes to their lifestyles, including by shifting to more active modes of transport like walking and cycling.

Cllr Rosy Moore, Executive Councillor for Environment and City Centre, said: “While we are doing all we can to meet air quality objectives in the city, including by delivering on a new citywide Air Quality Action Plan, our work currently relies on us submitting successful funding applications.

“We feel the government needs to do more to support the work of local councils in tackling one of the greatest health hazards facing this country.“

The Charter for Cleaner Air sets out some very reasonable and achievable steps that we, as a country, need to take. So we call on the government to act now, and call on other councils to sign up and join us in tackling the issue of air quality, to help improve the health of our communities.”

The full text of the Charter For Cleaner Air is available at https://www.oxford.gov.uk/downloads/file/4868/charter_for_cleaner_air