Bicester Advertiser Column: 18 January 2018 - Air Pollution


In the UK, thanks to legislation from the 1950s onwards air pollution has massively been reduced. Today, motor vehicles account for most of our air pollution. Sadly this causes around 40,000 deaths per year.


As Bicester has grown, traffic has grown inexorably. The south east of England has one of the highest rates of car ownership at 1.34 cars per household. So with 10,000 new homes to be built in Bicester we can expect an extra 13,400 vehicles on our roads or 26,800 additional car journeys per day. Big numbers.


Unfortunately as Cherwell District Council (CDC) has ‘planned’ Bicester’s growth, they have failed to include adequate road infrastructure. As a result Queens Avenue, Kings End, St Johns Street, Field Street and Buckingham Road are often heavily congested and experience poor air quality based on UK and EU standards. Extensive monitoring has scientifically proven that Bicester experiences levels of illegal air pollution. We only discovered this information hidden within in a CDC commissioned report that has since been removed from their website.


The main areas affected by illegal air pollution in Bicester are along Queens Avenue and adjoining streets.
The main areas affected by illegal air pollution in Bicester are along Queens Avenue and adjoining streets.

Air pollution is a serious killer, in comparison it kills half the number of people that die from smoking related diseases. Live in an area with air pollution, like Bicester and your risk increases. Worse still many hundreds of thousands experience poorer health because of air pollution, particularly the young and elderly.


The law says that if an area exceeds legal air pollution limits, the council must establish an air quality action plan (AQAP) to address the problem. Despite receiving Bicester specific, expert recommendations in 2014, CDC have ignored these ideas and so far have announced only a car sharing club and awareness classes for school children. Given that Oxfordshire County Council have run a car sharing club for years this is hardly ground-breaking innovation from the boffins of Bodicote House. What was so wrong with the recommendations they paid for with your council tax?


CDC release very little information about air pollution however we know that of the four AQAPs within our district, Bicester is the only one which has not improved in the last year.


Two years ago we thought this was an urgent issue so decided to contact our councillors. Shockingly we only received six replies, all of them lacklustre platitudes and nothing since. Recently we even spoke with our MP Victoria Prentis who believes that as in ten years most new cars will be electric, the problem will go away eventually. So if you can hold your breath for the next decade, it would be really helpful.


So if Bicester really was a healthy town in terms of a functioning local democracy and a council that actually took its primary duties seriously, surely our councillors and others would be saying “look this isn’t right, let’s do something about it”? Is this really too much to ask?


We feel that the issues we campaign on are very important to the future well being of our town. We want to ensure that as a town, our residents are properly informed of the issues. Shortly we will hold our AGM and will invite new members to join our committee. If this is something you would be interested in, please contact us at or or


These issues are not new. You can read the responses we got to a Freedom of Information request from Cherwell District Council and which contains ALOT more detail than this article has space for. Interestingly you can see which of our councillors responded to us raising these concerns with them and who did not. If they are you councillor, you might want to think if they are serving your needs properly.




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