Sir –We were intrigued by a recent item on Radio 4’s, Inside Science programme (September 3) featuring an iPhone App that allows people to carry out their own air pollution monitoring in UK cities.

This, we thought, might be a handy tool in our battle to halt the Northern Gateway development on an inappropriate site in North Oxford, already referred to by locals as The Toxic Triangle.

Imagine our surprise when we subsequently discovered that the company producing this device (CleanSpace) is headed by no less a figure than the former science minister Lord Drayson. This is the same Lord Drayson who was a key promoter of a report by Oxford University entitled The Oxfordshire Innovation Engine that proposes the development of large swathes of land in Oxford and Oxfordshire for expansion of the knowledge-based industry, in a frenzied race to compete with Cambridge.

Much of the proposed development outlined in this report is totally unsustainable, in terms of supporting infrastructure and ecological concerns – primarily the radical deterioration of air quality. The aforementioned Toxic Triangle – the proposed site for the new Northern Gateway development – is a prime example.

This is a 23.5-hectare triangle of land, hemmed in on all sides by heavily congested arterial roads and two busy railway freight lines, producing emission levels that currently, and significantly, exceed those legally required by the European Commission’s National Emissions Ceilings Directive.

In short, NOx levels on this site are already through the roof and pose a serious threat to human health – not to mention the delicate ecosystems of nearby Port Meadow and protected areas of SSSI.

But into this already toxic, traffic-congested environment, the council – encouraged by Lord Drayson – proposes to plonk 90,000 square metres of office buildings and at least 500 new homes, with pitifully inadequate plans for transport mitigation.

So it appears that Lord Drayson could stand to make lot of money from providing us with an App to help us monitor the air pollution that he has actively promoted. Very neat.

Harriet Milles, Dr Katherine Kaye, Dr Sietske Boeles, Dr Sue Gerhardt, Michele Topham, Barbara Spencer, John Semple, John Handley, Rosemary Harris
(Oxford residents and members of the Wolvercote Action Group)