Air quality

Why it matters

Sustained exposure to air pollution is bad for people’s lungs, heart, and blood vessels. Long-term exposure to air pollution is linked to cardiovascular diseases, chronic respiratory problems, and cancer. Air pollution was recently estimated to contribute to 50,000 deaths in the UK each year.  

Our duty

Part IV of the Environment Act 1995 started the legal structure for local air quality management. Under the Act, the Council has a statutory duty to review and assess air quality in the District against national air quality objectives and co-ordinate actions to improve air quality where an issue has been identified.

Local authorities have a duty to declare any area where an air quality objective is unlikely to be, or is not being met as an Air Quality Management Area (AQMA). Once an AQMA has been declared the Council is required to develop an Air Quality Action Plan outlining the measures required to improve air quality in that area.

What you can do to help

Avoid using your car unless you have to

In addition to reducing the amount of pollution on the roads and the health benefits that come with regular exercise, walking or cycling also dramatically reduces your exposure to air pollution.

Switch off your engine 

Keeping the engine running while parked or in stationary traffic (known as idling) increases pollution and exposure to it. Idling cars produce up to twice as much air pollution as moving vehicles.

By turning off your engine, you are making the environment safer for children, teachers, pedestrians, patients and anyone else who is sharing the space with you. You will also be saving on fuel!

Schools, hospitals and bus stops are particularly vulnerable to this and are usually points of significant exposure for children, the elderly or those with existing medical conditions.

British Lung Foundation recently found that 2,220 GP practices and 248 hospitals are in areas which exceed safe pollution limits.

Background to air quality in Cherwell

Air quality throughout the district is generally good. Regular assessments of air quality have identified areas of poor air quality in the district where nitrogen dioxide levels are above national air quality objectives. These higher levels of air pollution are mainly due to road traffic.

We have designated four air quality management areas (AQMAs) around these areas of poor air quality.

  • AQMA No.1 is an area around Hennef Way, Banbury
  • AQMA No.2 is an area between Southam Road and Oxford Road, Banbury, including some of High Street
  • AQMA No.3 is an area of Bicester Road, Kidlington
  • AQMA No.4 is an area around Kings End, Queens Avenue, Field Street and St Johns, Bicester

An air quality action plan has been developed which aims to reduce the level of air pollution in these AQMAs to below the national air quality objective.

Air pollution monitoring reports

Diffusion tube monitoring for nitrogen dioxide is carried out at 45 locations across the district where it is considered there may be a problem with congestion, the volume of traffic or where there are development proposals. The locations of the diffusion tubes are reviewed annually. The monitoring locations and the latest monitoring data can be found using the interactive map.

View the  Air Quality Annual Status Report 2023

The monitoring results are also contained within the annual reports submitted to Defra.