Oxford aims to be world's first zero-emissions city

Jon Howard
October 14, 2017

Oxford city centre is considering becoming the first Zero Emissions Zone (ZEZ) in the world.

In the first stage of its plans from 2020, taxis, cars, light commercial vehicles and buses which are non zero-emission, will be banned from six streets in the city centre, including near the world-famous Oxford Union debating society.

Oxford city centre now has illegally high levels of toxic nitrogen dioxide (NO2), which contributes to diseases and contributes to around 40,000 deaths in the United Kingdom every year.

Tanner said that George Street, one of the city's main commercial arteries, could see NO2 levels drop by as much as 74 percent.

The councils are seeking responses 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.

A six-week public consultation will be held from the 16 October to the 26 November to gain feedback from the public concerning the zero-emissions proposal.

Britain has said it will ban the sale of all new diesel and petrol cars from 2040, replicating plans by France and the mayors of Paris, Madrid, Mexico City and Athens, who aim to ban diesel vehicles from their city centres by 2025.

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"Toxic and illegal air pollution in the city centre is damaging the health of Oxford's residents".

None of this is to say that Oxford's intention to create a zero-emissions zone isn't well-intentioned.

In fact, the entire proposal is "contingent on technology being sufficiently developed to allow this to be practical".
To date, the Government has provided Oxford £1.3m to install charging points for electric taxis and cars.

The councils have acknowledged that more funding will be required to implement these new measures.

Oxford will also introduce reduced parking fees for electric vehicles and electric-taxi ranks.

"We support the principle of a Zero Emission Zone in Oxford".

Oxfordshire county councillor Yvonne Constance 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". The zone, which requires buses to be low-emitting vehicles, was the first of its kind outside London and won the Local Authority Air Quality Initiative of the Year at the National Air Quality Awards 2015.

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