Oxford will ban petrol and diesel cars from city centre to become ‘world’s first Zero Emission Zone’

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Petrol and diesel cars to be banned from certain roads in the city centre by 2020, with more roads included in ban over time

Oxford is set to ban all petrol and diesel vehicles from the city centre, becoming what officials believe will be the world’s first Zero Emission Zone.

The ban will be staggered, with NO2-emitting taxis, cars, light commercial vehicles and buses excluded from a small number of streets in the city centre.

The area would be extended to cover more roads in 2025 and 2030, with the entire city centre being completely free of non-zero-emission vehicles – including HGVs – by 2035.

Oxford city councillor John Tanner said: “Toxic and illegal air pollution in the city centre is damaging the health of Oxford’s residents. A step change is urgently needed; the Zero Emission Zone is that step change.

“All of us who drive or use petrol or diesel vehicles through Oxford are contributing to the city’s toxic air. Everyone needs to do their bit – from national government and local authorities to businesses and residents – to end this public health emergency.”

Oxford City Council has been awarded £500,000 of government funding to install charging points for electric taxis, as well as £800,000 to pay for 100 electric vehicle charging points for use by residents. It is hoped these improvements to infrastructure will support the introduction of the Zero Emission Zone.

On Monday, a six-week public consultation will be launched that will look at views on the speed of the implementation, as well as the roads and vehicle types included in the scheme.

Oxfordshire county councillor Yvonne Constance said: “We want to hear from everyone who uses the city centre – including businesses, bus and taxi firms and local residents – so that we get the fullest possible picture. We know that there will be a wide variety of views and we want to hear them all.


“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.”

However, the move has been met with some criticism.

RAC roads policy spokesman Nicholas Lyes said: “Oxford appears to be considering a very radical approach to tackling its air quality problem.

“The council would be better placed to first identify those vehicles that are most responsible for creating city pollution rather than simply implementing an outright ban on all non-zero-emissions vehicles from certain streets.

“This will also mean that local residents who have invested in cleaner hybrid vehicles will now be targeted which seems both unfair and an unwelcome disincentive as the use of these vehicles should be being encouraged.”

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