Oxford to introduce the UK’s first Zero Emission Zone (ZEZ)
Although Oxford is not among the areas ordered by the Government to implement a Clean Air Zone as part of the UK’s Clean Air Strategy, the city has nonetheless announced that it is drawing up a bold plan of its own.
Oxford City council and Oxfordshire County Council have now published final draft proposals for what is said to be the UK’s first city centre Zero Emission Zone (ZEZ), to be introduced later this year.
The proposed Red Zone aims to mark the next step towards cleaner air in Oxford, and a dramatic reduction in the health risks for people living and working in the city. It is also expected that the ZEZ will improve air pollution levels in towns and villages across Oxfordshire because the buses and taxis and other vehicles that serve Oxford also serve towns and villages across the county.
The proposal would see emissions requirements implemented in Oxford city centre in phases, from 2020 to 2035 with a Green Zone to be introduced in 2021/22.
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 per cent discount for residents living in the zone until December 2030
Buses and Oxford licensed Hackney Carriages which drive within the planned Zero Emission have already agreed timelines for zero emissions fleets across Oxford and will not be subject to charges.
The Red Zone will go to formal consultation in March 2020, and the draft charging order published, with both councils making a formal decision on implementation in the spring, which could mean the scheme coming into effect in December 2020.