Agenda item

Agenda item

Air Quality Annual Status Report

The Scrutiny Committee agreed to add the Annual Air Quality Status Report to its work plan earlier in June 2018. This report has featured on the Committees work plan for the past four years. The Committee has agreed to revisit the need for an air quality review group in 2019, which this report may help to inform. This is an opportunity for the Committee to note the report and comment if it wishes.



The Committee considered the Annual Air Quality Status Report for 2017.


Councillor Hayes, Board Member for Safer, Greener Environment,  and Mai Jarvis, Environmental Quality Team Leader, provided an overview of the report and answered questions.


The Committee noted:


1.    A significant improvement in air quality over the last 10 years and in 2017, but that further improvements were necessary as there was no safe level of air pollution.

2.    The monitoring of targeted sites where maximum levels of pollutants were most likely to be exceeded. Some sites were monitored continuously and showed long-term trends; others were monitored to evaluate changes in air quality from changes in the built environment or traffic changes.

3.    Air quality data was available on a webpage linked to the Council’s website showing trends, historical data and recent data.

4.    There was an overlap between air pollution from other sources such as diesel engines and nuisances such as noise or smell. Reducing the nuisance caused could be a more appropriate way to deal with these.

5.    In Council-owned properties the programme of refurbishment works included upgrading boilers to more efficient and less polluting models and there were annual safety checks.

6.    When planned construction or roadworks took place, monitoring either in that area or along diversion routes could be planned and the changes in pollution measured. It usually took about 24 months after a change in the road network to accurately assess long term effects on air quality.

7.    The County Council’s transport group was working to reduce nuisance and pollution from heavily polluting vehicles in the City, but rerouting vehicles without other measures simply moved the problems.

8.    There was no data about air pollution caused by cars seeking either public or controlled parking spaces in controlled parking zone (CPZ) areas. Monitoring could be considered in CPZ areas where there were also public facilities.

9.    The proposed Zero Emission Zone would have a positive impact on air quality, as would campaigns to stop vehicles idling. There was however no data on emissions by vehicle type and it would be difficult to measure. 

10. The Environmental Sustainability Team were researching how to make best use of beneficial trees to reduce air pollution.

11. Officers were running an anti-idling campaign and making direct approaches about reducing air pollution by turning off idling engines. They were working with schools to discourage buses and cars from idling, and as well as a general campaign were directly approaching tourist coaches in St Giles.



The Committee asked a number of questions:


1.    Could air quality improvement measures be included in the Local Plan. For example in policies and if necessary and reasonable conditions such as on travel and construction plans requiring reduced air pollution and measuring and monitoring in large developments?

2.    The anti-idling campaign could also target construction vehicles and heavy Goods Vehicles to reduce pollution in residential areas, and look at closing access to and near schools to reduce pollution.

3.    Could community centres be used as monitoring stations to increase community awareness and interest in the impact of air pollution?

4.    Could the Tourism Management Review Group consider the effects on air quality of the increase in short-stay coaches as part of their review?

5.    Could the Housing Panel review the overall impact of the Council’s boiler replacement programme on air quality?



The Committee noted the report, the answers to questions, members’ comments and questions.


The Committee noted the improvements in air quality and steps being taken to ensure this continued.



Note: the Oxfordshire AirQuality website is:


Supporting documents: