16th October 2017

Oxford starts its journey to going emission-free

Views are being sought on Oxford’s plans to become the first city in the world to introduce a Zero Emission Zone and phase out diesel and petrol cars.

The zone would initially eliminate some vehicle types in a small number of streets in 2020 and, as vehicle technology develops, expand to all carbon-emitting vehicles across the whole city centre in 2035.

It is believed it would reduce air pollution levels in Oxford city centre to near-background levels, with the city centre’s most polluted street, George Street, having a 74 per cent reduction in toxic nitrogen dioxide (NO2) levels by 2035.

Oxford city council and Oxfordshire county council will today (Oct 16th) launch the public consultation on the proposals – seeking views on the speed of the implementation, and the vehicle types and roads affected.

The councils hope for feedback from everyone who uses the city centre – including businesses, fleet operators and local residents – to help shape the final scheme, which will be published next year.

John Tanner, Oxford city council executive board member for A Clean and Green Oxford, said: “All of us who drive or use petrol or diesel vehicles through Oxford are contributing to the city’s toxic air.

“Everyone who uses Oxford centre has the right to breathe clean air. I would urge everyone who uses Oxford city centre to take part in the consultation.

“We need to know, in detail, what people’s needs are, so that we can plan a Zero Emission Zone that minimises impact on business and residents while maximising impact on the city’s health.”

It is believed that this would be the world’s first Zero Emission Zone, while transport for London is planning to introduce the world’s first Ultra-Low Emission Zone in the capital in September 2020.

In a 2016 report, The Royal College of Physicians and the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health discovered that air pollution contributes to cancer, asthma, stroke and heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and changes linked to dementia. It found that, each year, outdoor air pollution contributes to around 40,000 deaths in the UK every year.

The city council, supported by the county council, has already won £500,000 of Government funding to install charging points for electric taxis and £800,000 of government funding to install 100 electric vehicle charging points for Oxford residents to support the implementation of the Zero Emission Zone.

The two councils launched a Low Emission Zone in Oxford city centre in 2014, which requires buses to be low-emitting vehicles – the first of its kind outside London.

Yvonne Constance, Oxfordshire county council cabinet member for Environment, said: “We want to hear from everyone who uses the city centre – including businesses, bus and taxi firms and local residents so that we get the fullest possible picture. We know that there will be a wide variety of views and we want hear them all.

“Pragmatism will be an important part of anything we plan but we have set the ambition and now we would like to hear peoples’ views on our proposals.”

To read the full Zero Emission Zone Feasibility and Implementation Study and take part in the consultation, please visit: www.oxford.gov.uk/zez.