Oxford Council asks Chancellor’s help to tackle air pollution

Oxford City Council has written to the Chancellor of the Exchequer to ask him to make bold policy announcements to help tackle Oxford’s illegal air pollution in his upcoming budget.

Bob Price, leader of Oxford City Council, wrote to Chancellor Philip Hammond asking him to increase vehicle exercise duty on new diesel vehicles from April 2018, and then use the money raised to help fund a diesel scrappage scheme for those on low incomes.

The scheme would see drivers financially compensated for scrapping their diesel vehicle and replacing it with a more economically-friendly version.

Price said the policies would help people move to a cleaner option and that local unitises would be ‘far more successful’ if they are supported by bold national policy changes to diesel taxation.

Parts of Oxford city centre are still failing to meet legal nitrogen dioxide targets despite a 36.9 per cent reduction over the last decade.

Oxford City Council and Oxfordshire County Council are currently consulting on proposals to introduce the world’s first Zero Emission Zone in Oxford. The proposals, which would be phased between 2020 and 2035, would cut nitrogen dioxide levels by up to 74 per cent.

In June, the city council wrote to the government to ask for more funding and powers to tackle air pollution in the area.

The city council, supported by the county council, has already received £500,000 of government funding to install charging points for electric taxis and £800,000 of government funding to install 100 electric vehicle charging points for Oxford residents.

In his letter to the Chancellor, Price said: “Air pollution is at crisis levels in our towns and cities. Road vehicles contribute about 80 per cent of nitrogen dioxide pollution at the roadside and diesel vehicles make up a big part of this.

“Children born this year are likely to face another 10 years of poor air quality under current plans. This could have a devastating effect on their health – it could stunt their lung growth and leave them with long term health problems.

“Not only is diesel harmful for our health, it’s expensive – it’s estimated that air pollution is costing the Treasury around £20 billion a year. I urge you to use this Budget to put in place bold fiscal policies that will help tackle this health crisis.”

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