Two councils have put forward joint proposals to introduce what they believe would be the world’s first Zero Emission Zone in Oxford city centre.
Oxford City Council and Oxfordshire County Council, which had previously come into conflict over a similar idea, plan to ban ‘emitting vehicles’ such as petrol and diesel vehicles from the city centre in phases, starting with some vehicle types and a small number of streets in 2020.
As vehicle technology develops the ban would move to all vehicle types across the whole city centre in 2035.
On Monday (16 October) the councils will launch a six-week public consultation on the proposals, which they said would take air pollution levels in Oxford city centre down to ‘near-background levels’.
John Tanner, Oxford City Council executive board member for a clean and green Oxford, said: ‘Toxic and illegal air pollution in the city centre is damaging the health of Oxford’s residents. A step change is urgently needed; the Zero Emission Zone is that step change.
‘All of us who drive or use petrol or diesel vehicles through Oxford are contributing to the city’s toxic air. Everyone needs to do their bit – from national Government and local authorities, to businesses and residents – to end this public health emergency.’
RAC roads policy spokesman Nicholas Lyes said: ‘Oxford appears to be considering a very radical approach to tackling its air quality problem. The council would be better placed to first identify those vehicles that are most responsible for creating city pollution rather than simply implementing an outright ban on all non-zero emission vehicles from certain streets.
‘This will also mean that local residents who have invested in cleaner hybrid vehicles will now be targeted, which seems both unfair and an unwelcome disincentive as the use of these vehicles should be being encouraged.’
The Zero Emission Zone proposals would see:
- From 2020: Non-zero emission taxis, cars, light commercial vehicles and buses excluded from Queen Street, Cornmarket Street, New Inn Hall Street, Market Street, Ship Street and St Michael’s Street
- From 2025: Non-zero emission taxis, cars, light commercial vehicles and buses excluded from roads including New Road, the southern part of Worcester Street, George Street, Magdalen Street, Magdalen Street East, Pembroke Street, Speedwell Street, Norfolk Street and Castle Street
- From 2030: Non-zero emission taxis, cars, light commercial vehicles and buses excluded from all roads within Hollybush Row, Hythe Bridge Street, Worcester Street, Beaumont Street, St Giles’, part of Parks Road, South Parks Road, St Cross Road, Longwall Street, Merton Street, Blue Boar Street, St Aldate’s and Thames Street
- From 2035: All non-zero-emission vehicles, including HGVs, excluded from within the whole city centre area