Oxford City Council are leading the way with its plans to bring in the first Zero Emission Zone (ZEZ) which will come into force in August of this year. This week, Oxford City Council supported the introduction of the Zero Emission Zone, set for August 2021. Next week Oxfordshire County Council’s Cabinet will have final sign off on the introduction of the scheme, as the highways authority.
The pilot scheme will restrict polluting vehicles from key streets in the city centre during the day. Those who drive polluting vehicles into the ZEZ will be charged, with the level of charge dependent on how polluting the vehicle is.
The ZEZ pilot scheme here is the first phase of the Zero Emission Zone. It will provide councils with useful experience and information before introducing a larger ZEZ comes into force covering most of Oxford city centre. This is planned for 2022 and is subject to further public consultation.
The pilot ZEZ is designed to deliver the same restrictions as the expanded version. The scheme aims is to reduce toxic air pollution levels, help tackle the climate emergency, and improve the health of residents, workers and visitors in Oxford and beyond.
The pilot ZEZ will cover the main central area of Oxford city centre including New Road, between Bonn Square and its junction with Castle Street, Bonn Square, Queen Street, Cornmarket Street, New Inn Hall Street and Shoe Lane. It will also include Market Street, from its junction with Cornmarket extending east for 40 metres, Ship Street and St Michael’s Street.
Any vehicles driven into the ZEZ between 7am and 7pm will be subject to charges and the scheme will run seven days a week. Charges range from £2 a day for a low emission vehicle to £10 per day for the highest polluting vehicles. These charges will see a rise in August 2025.
There will be some discounts and exemptions available for some road users including residents and businesses within the ZEZ. Professional care and health workers while carrying out formal duties won’t be charged. The same applies to students with financial hardship who have to enter the ZEZ to deliver or collect belongings at the start and end of term. Similarly, with Blue Badge holders for up to two vehicles.
The scheme will offer 90 percent discount for residents living within the ZEZ area for a maximum of two vehicles until August 2030. Businesses operating in the ZEZ for up to 10 vehicles registered to the business until 2025 will also receive a 90 percent discount.
Hopefully, the scheme will help to encourage the use of electric cars and light commercial vehicles, especially those used for last-mile deliveries. It’s good to see this happening and if successful could be led out across the country making city centres cleaner and more pleasant places to be.
Councillor Tom Hayes, deputy leader and cabinet member for Green Transport and Zero Carbon Oxford at Oxford City Council, said: “I am thrilled that our cabinet has formally supported our plans to introduce Britain’s first Zero Emission Zone.
“Everyone has the right to breathe the cleanest air possible, and we are now taking one of the last remaining steps to ensuring that this can become a reality. We are looking forward to hearing from Oxfordshire County Council’s Cabinet next week and await their decision on the ZEZ Pilot.”
Councillor Yvonne Constance, Cabinet Member for Environment, Oxfordshire County Council, said: “Tackling air pollution and climate change is a huge priority for Oxfordshire County Council. Not only will the Zero Emission Zone make a difference to the quality of life and health of people living and working in the city centre, we are showing that change is possible as we start to respond seriously with climate action. We can look forward to a city that will be a healthier and cleaner place for all.”