Oxford Labour found considerable public support today during their attempt to highlight plans by the Coalition Government to water down air quality monitoring. Poor air quality is currently the biggest public health risk after smoking, and around 25,000 people are estimated to have died in the UK as a result of air pollution over the last twelve months. The Coalition Government is proposing to remove obligations on local government to run air quality monitoring stations, following its ‘red tape challenge’ to reduce regulation.
Andrew Smith, MP for Oxford East and Anneliese Dodds, one of Labour’s European candidates for the South East of England who is based in Oxford, encouraged shoppers and workers on their lunch breaks to take leaflets explaining the threat to air quality monitoring next to the monitoring station at All Souls College on the High Street and are encouraging residents to sign SERA’s petition.
Anneliese Dodds, who is leading ten days of action across the South East against the proposals, is supporting moves by Labour MEPs to challenge the legality of the Government’s proposals in Europe. She said: “The UK has already been in breach of EU regulations on air quality this year. Getting rid of air quality monitors will hide pollution but won’t stop it harming the young, the elderly and the unwell.”
Andrew Smith, MP for Oxford East, said: “Air quality monitoring is vital both for health and the quality of life. It’s very worrying that the government don’t think it should be a requirement.”
Councillor John Tanner, Cabinet member for Cleaner, Greener Oxford, said: “Protecting the health of Oxford residents is not red-tape; it is vital in our continuing campaign for clean air in our city. Pollution in Oxford has fallen over the last 10 years because we have kept a close eye on what’s happening to pollution levels.”
SERA is preparing a campaign pack for local Labour Parties on air quality. Let us know what you need and how you are campaigning on this issue locally.