Oxford councils puts forward Zero Emission Zone proposals for city centre
Oxford City Council and Oxfordshire County Council have put forward joint proposals to introduce a Zero Emission Zone in Oxford city centre in a bid to reduce air pollution.
Transport for London is planning to introduce the world’s first Ultra-Low Emission Zone in the capital in September 2020.
The Zero Emission Zone proposals ban emitting vehicles from Oxford city centre in phases, starting with some vehicle types and a small number of streets in 2020 and, as vehicle technology develops, moves to all vehicle types across the whole city centre in 2035.
On Monday, 16 October, the City and County Councils will launch a six-week public consultation on the proposals – seeking views on the speed of the implementation, and the vehicle types and roads affected.
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.
The European Union requires national governments to keep annual average NO2 levels across their countries to below 40µg/m3. Despite a 36.9 per cent reduction in NO2 levels across Oxford in the last decade, parts of the city centre are still failing to meet this legal limit. Although the UK will not be in the EU by 2020, local councils are planning on the basis of regulations as they currently stand.
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, the proposals state that non-zero emission taxis, cars, light commercial vehicles and buses excluded from roads including New Road, Worcester Street, George Street, Magdalen Street, Magdalen Street East, Pembroke Street, Speedwell Street, Norfolk Street and Castle Street.
From 2030, exclusion would then expand to 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.
The proposal for a Zero Emission Zone is contingent on technology being sufficiently developed to allow this to be practical.
The City Council, supported by the County Council, has already won £500,000 of government funding to install charging points for electric taxis and £800,000 of government funding to install 100 electric vehicle charging points for Oxford residents to support the implementation of the Zero Emission Zone.
Going forward, the Zero Emission Zone will need to be supported with further funding to install more electric vehicle charging infrastructure in Oxford.
The City Council wrote to the government in June to ask for more funding and powers to tackle air pollution in Oxford.
Other schemes under consideration to support the Zero Emission Zone include: offering reduced parking fees for electric vehicles, electric taxi-only ranks, and electric delivery vehicle-only loading areas.
The emission and financial modelling underpinning the Zero Emission Zone proposals comes from a new study, which was commissioned jointly by Oxford City Council and Oxfordshire County Council, and was carried out by Ricardo Energy & Environment.
The study put forward six options for introducing a Zero Emission Zone in Oxford city centre, ranging from limited introduction until 2035 to a near-full introduction in 2020. The proposed Zero Emission Zone – option three in the study’s list – takes a measured and realistic approach based on expected technology availability.
Oxford City Council and Oxfordshire County Council launched a Low Emission Zone in Oxford city centre in 2014.
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.
Oxfordshire County Council is exploring demand management options for Oxford including a potential Congestion Charge and Workplace Parking Levy.
These measures are aimed at reducing traffic and congestion in the City and would also improve air quality. The Zero Emission Zone is said to "complement these schemes" by addressing emissions from the remaining traffic.
To read the full Zero Emission Zone Feasibility and Implementation Study and take part in the consultation, which will be available from Monday 16 October, please visit: www.oxford.gov.uk/zez.