Oxford plans to introduce world's first zero-emission zone

GETTYThe initiative will cost Oxford city Council bus and taxi firms an estimated £14 million

GETTYThe initiative will cost Oxford city Council bus and taxi firms an estimated £14 million

Oxford City Council and Oxfordshire County Council have jointly proposed the establishment of a Zero Emission Zone in Oxford City by banning petrol and diesel vehicles ban from parts of the city centre.

The proposals would see the ban being rolled out slowly, starting with all petrol and diesel cars, taxis and buses being excluded from six streets in 2020.

The full Zero Emission Zone Feasibility and Implementation Study is available on the Oxford City Council website, and the public consultation will be available from Monday 16 October.

John Tanner, Councillor of Oxford City Council said: "Toxic and illegal air pollution in the city centre is damaging the health of Oxford's residents".

The plan would therefore drop air pollution levels in the Oxford city center down to near-background levels: For example, George Street, which is Oxford City's most polluted street, would experience a 74% reduction in nitrogen dioxide levels by 2035.

The councils are seeking responses from local residents, businesses and fleet operators to help shape the final scheme, expected to be published nex year.

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Parts of Oxford city centre are failing to meet the EU's legal air pollution limit, with average nitrogen dioxide (NO2) levels falling by just 3.9% between 2014 and 2016. "Everyone needs to do their bit - from national Government and local authorities, to businesses and residents - to end this public health emergency".

Banning approximately 99% of all current vehicles from key central streets of Oxford in less than three years' time will cause significant headaches for bus and taxi companies, let alone delivery companies and personal drivers.

"All of us who drive or use petrol or diesel vehicles through Oxford are contributing to the city's toxic air. We know that the future is electric vehicles with no tailpipe emissions; this is the beginning of a revolution in bus travel". The hope will be that zero-emissions technology and infrastructure development will have advanced significantly by the second phase of the ban in 2025, when a number of busier streets will start to be impacted.

Does the Zero Emissions Zone make sense for Oxford city centre? "Pragmatism will be an important part of anything we plan but we have set the ambition and now we would like to hear people's views on our proposals".

Meanwhile, Transport for London is planning to introduce the world's first Ultra Low Emission Zone in September 2020.

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