Oxford’s proposed Zero Emission Zone (ZEZ) pilot has today been formally approved by the Oxfordshire County Council Cabinet for launch in August.
The decision by the County Council as Oxfordshire’s transport authority means the scheme can proceed following approval last week by Oxford City Council Cabinet as the joint partner in the scheme.
Oxford will be one of the first places in Britain to introduce a ZEZ. The scheme aims to reduce toxic air pollution levels, help tackle the climate emergency, and improve the health of residents, workers and visitors in Oxford and beyond.
The ZEZ pilot will restrict polluting vehicles from key city-centre streets during the day. Those who drive polluting vehicles into the zone will be charged a fee, with the level of the charge depending on how polluting the vehicle is.
The pilot is the first phase of the ZEZ. It will allow both councils to gain useful experience and information before introducing a larger ZEZ covering most of Oxford city centre in 2022, subject to further public consultation. It is intended that the restrictions and exemptions applied within the pilot will be the same in the expanded ZEZ.
Councillor Yvonne Constance, Oxfordshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Environment, said: “Tackling air pollution and climate change is a huge priority for Oxfordshire County Council. Not only will the Zero Emission Zone 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 now look forward to a city that will be a healthier and cleaner place for all.”
Councillor Tom Hayes, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Green Transport and Zero Carbon Oxford, said: “Air pollution weakens our lungs and makes it harder to breathe. Dirty air cuts short life and our quality of life, and it’s just not on. Giving Britain’s first Zero Emission Zone the green light is a game-changer, a way of improving public health, but also social justice, because it is the poorest citizens who are most affected by toxic air. As the UK’s first council to set an air quality target which is tougher and tighter than the government’s own, the Zero Emission Zone will help us to provide the cleanest air that Oxford residents will have ever known.”