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The Oxford Zero Emission Zone debate

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Oxford Zero Emissions Zone by Oxford City Council

Oxford City Council and Oxfordshire County Council are proposing to introduce a zero emission zone (ZEZ) in Oxford city centre. The zone is likely to be the first area in the UK to set a zero emission requirement, although there are schemes in London and other UK cities, which set “ultra low emission” requirement.

The Red Zone forms the first step of a phased plan to reduce emissions in Oxford city centre from 2020 to 2035. It covers a large part of the main pedestrian and retail core of the city centre, with high pedestrian and cycle usage but relatively low vehicular traffic as the area is largely pedestrianized with no through routes, just access traffic.

Zero emission vehicles would be able to drive in the zone free of charge but other vehicles would have to pay £10 per day to drive in the zone between 7am and 7pm. There would be discounts and exemptions for some road users, including residents, blue badge holders and emergency vehicles.

According to the two councils, the ZEZ will lead to cleaner air, quieter streets, contribute to action on climate change, and allow them to gain useful experience and information to inform future, larger phases of the ZEZ which are planned for 2024 and beyond.

The key points of the latest proposals are:

* The introduction of a charging scheme in the Red Zone between 7am-7pm, with a £10 charge for non-compliant vehicles entering the zone.

* Discounts for all blue badge holders entering the zone until December 2024.

* Exemptions for businesses registered in the Red Zone until December 2024, followed by a discount until December 2030.

* A 90% discount for residents living in the zone until December 2030.

* Buses and Oxford licensed Hackney Carriages which drive within the planned Zero Emission Zone have already agreed timelines for zero emissions fleets across Oxford and will not be subject to charges.

Both councils have now launched an informal consultation on a draft final scheme for the Red Zone, including the proposed charging and enforcement arrangements, which could begin as early as December 2020.

At Glanville, we applaud this positive step in reducing air pollution however, we recognise that there are many residents, businesses, logistic companies and tourists who will need support in changing their travel habits to meet the proposed requirements. This will be of increased concern and importance when future phases of the scheme are rolled out in 2021/22, with a view to having a city-wide zero emission zone in place by 2035.

Contact Tim Foxall, Director -Transport & Highways TFoxall@glanvillegroup.com

Further Zero Emission Zone details can be found on the Oxford City Council’s website: https://www.oxford.gov.uk/info/20216/air_quality_management/1305/oxford_zero_emission_zone_zez

Image from Oxford City Council: www.oxford.gov.uk