Final drafts published for first city centre Zero Emission Zone

Oxford City Council and Oxfordshire County Council have published final draft proposals for the UK’s first city centre Zero Emission Zone (ZEZ), to be introduced later this year.

Marking the next step towards cleaner air in Oxford, and a dramatic reduction in the health risks for people living and working in the city, a proposed Red Zone will improve air pollution levels in towns and villages across Oxfordshire because the buses and taxis and other vehicles that serve Oxford also serve towns and villages across the county.

In addition to the ZEZ, to be introduced later this year, a Green Zone is proposed for introduction in 2021/22, covering the rest of the city centre. The ZEZ aims to reduce Oxford’s toxic air pollution levels, tackle the climate emergency, and improve the health of those living, working, and visiting in Oxford and beyond.

Tom Hayes, Cabinet Member for Zero Carbon Oxford at Oxford City Council, said: “2020 will be a crunch year for our climate and all our futures. We face a climate emergency that threatens all of our futures. For the sake of everyone in Oxford, and especially our children’s lungs, we must clean up the lethal air we’re all breathing. Oxford’s Zero Emission Zone will come into force this year and help make 2020 the year we make a game-changing difference.

“With our strengthened Zero Emission Zone and the introduction of hundreds of supporting charging points, our medieval city is leading the electric vehicle revolution. Our two councils have taken a fresh look at the big idea of charging commuters to drive polluting vehicles in and out of the city centre. And we’re listening to Oxford’s Citizens’ Assembly on Climate Change by speeding up our journey to a city-wide Zero Emission Zone. Local government isn’t prepared to delay action. Our two councils are working together to enhance lives here in Oxford and across the market towns and villages of Oxfordshire.”

The Oxford Zero Emission Zone is a similar type of scheme to that used in London to enforce emission requirements. Several other cities in Britain and other countries are looking at ways to improve air quality by restricting vehicle access in similar ways.