Residents urged to have say on Oxford Zero Emission Zone pilot


Residents of Oxford and beyond are being asked to submit their views on plans for a road charging scheme for cleaner and greener city under a current consultation, which closes on 17 January.

The proposed Zero Emission Zone (ZEZ) pilot aims to reduce the city’s air pollution levels and so far, 400 responses have been submitted to the final consultation, which opened in November.

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 this project 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. To get us there, it is important to understand public views on the latest proposals for the pilot zone and I would like to encourage all residents to have their say."

The councils consulted on initial proposals for a ZEZ in 2017, published updated proposals in January 2019, and consulted informally on final draft proposals (focused on the Red Zone charging scheme) in January 2020. The two councils began a final consultation on the Red Zone in March 2020, but this was suspended due to the pandemic.

Reflecting on the feedback from the January 2020 ZEZ consultation, the experience of COVID-19, and the feedback from the temporary bus gates survey last summer, the councils have made several changes to the ZEZ proposals.

The main change is the proposal for the ZEZ pilot to have exactly the same requirements as those proposed for the subsequent larger ZEZ. This will allow the councils to accelerate the larger ZEZ, delivering greater overall benefits sooner.

The ZEZ would be implemented through a road user charging scheme, which means vehicles used in the zone would be subject to charges, depending on their emissions. Only 100 per cent zero emission vehicles would be able to be used in the zone free of charge.

Discounts are proposed for certain vehicles and road users including residents’ and businesses’ vehicles and Blue Badge holders. Some of these are transitional discounts, which would only apply temporarily, while others would apply permanently.