Britain’s first Zero Emission Zone (ZEZ) will begin in Oxford on 28 February 2022. All petrol and diesel vehicles, including hybrids, will incur a daily charge unless eligible for a discount or exemption. However, zero emission electric vehicles (EVs), can enter the pilot area free of charge.
The pilot will launch in a small number of streets in the city centre including: New Road, between Bonn Square and its junction with Castle Street; Bonn Square; Queen Street; Cornmarket Street; New Inn Hall Street; Shoe Lane; Market Street, from Cornmarket junction east for 40 metres; Ship Street and St Michael’s Street.
The charge will vary from £2 to £10 per day depending on the emission levels of the vehicle. Automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) cameras are being installed to enforce rules within the zone.
The ZEZ pilot will allow Oxfordshire County Council and Oxford City Council to gain useful insights before introducing a larger ZEZ covering most of Oxford city centre next year, subject to further public consultation.
The Oxford ZEZ will aim to reduce toxic air pollution in the city and encourage people to make positive changes in travel behaviour.
While many cities including London, Birmingham, Manchester, Bristol and Bath have already introduced or are in the process of introducing Clean Air Zone restrictions and charges for vehicles, Oxford will be the first city in Britain to introduce a ZEZ.
Hopefully, the scheme will encourage the use of electric cars and light commercial vehicles, especially those used for last-mile deliveries. Ultimately, the scheme should change the way people travel in the city and make it a cleaner and more pleasant place to be.
Councillor Tom Hayes, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Green Transport and Zero Carbon Oxford, Oxford City Council, said: “The City Council has chosen to set the toughest air quality standards of any local authority in the country. There is no safe level of air pollution.
“As the Chair of the Zero Carbon Oxford Partnership, we set up, the City Council has helped to establish a data-led, science-based target of creating a net zero city by 2040.
“We have high ambition matched with a pragmatic desire to work with anyone and listen to a range of views; that’s how you meet the climate crisis and clean our dirty air and deliver social justice at the same time.”
Councillor Duncan Enright, Oxfordshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Travel and Development Strategy, said: “We are taking concrete actions to improve air quality in the city and to make it cleaner and safer. Our vision is to create a zero-carbon transport network by 2040 and the ZEZ pilot is an important step towards achieving that vision.
“We will learn from the pilot and in the coming months we will consult with local communities as we develop plans to expand the ZEZ across the city centre. We hope that residents, businesses and visitors will join us in our journey towards a carbon neutral future.”
The facility to make ZEZ payments will be live on the county council’s website on the first day of the pilot. From 28 February, ZEZ charges for driving a polluting vehicle can be paid up to six days in advance, on the day the vehicle is driven in the zone and up to six days after the vehicle has been driven inside the zone.
More information on the ZEZ and the charges, discounts and exemptions available can be found at oxfordshire.gov.uk/zeroemissionzone