Buses a key part of Oxford’s zero emission plans

10 January 2020

Oxford City Council and Oxfordshire County Council are proposing to introduce the world’s first Zero Emission Zone (ZEZ) in Oxford city centre.

The proposal would see diesel and petrol vehicles banned from Oxford city centre in phases, starting with some vehicle types and a small number of streets in 2020, and — as vehicle technology develops — moving to all vehicle types across the whole city centre in 2035.

Oxford city centre currently has levels of toxic nitrogen dioxide which are illegally high, contributing to diseases including cancer, asthma, stroke and heart disease.

The ZEZ proposals would cut the nitrogen dioxide level in Oxford city centre’s most polluted street, George Street, by 74% by 2035 — bringing it well below the legal limit.

The good news for bus operators is that buses (and Oxford licensed taxis) which drive within the planned ZEZ have already agreed timelines for zero emissions fleets across Oxford and will not therefore be subject to charges.

The key points of the latest proposals include: the introduction of a charging scheme in the Red Zone between 7am and 7pm, with a £10 charge for non-compliant vehicles entering the zone; and exemptions for businesses registered in the Red Zone until December 2024, followed by a discount until December 2030.

An informal consultation on the Zone will be open from 7 to 31 January 2020, with the councils looking for feedback on:

  • the level at which the charges are set; whether the discounts are appropriate; the suggested hours of operation for the charging scheme; what future phases of the ZEZ should include; and when they should be implemented.

There will then be a formal consultation in March, when the draft charging order will be published, with both councils making a formal decision on implementation in the spring, which could mean the scheme coming into effect in December 2020.

Maps of the suggested zones can be found at www.oxford.gov.uk.