Oxford City Council and Oxfordshire County Council have published final draft proposals for the UK’s first city centre Zero Emission Zone (ZEZ), to be introduced later this year.
As well as providing a dramatic reduction in the health risks for people living and working in the city, the ZEZ is also expected to 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.
Buses and Oxford licensed taxis which drive within the planned Zero Emission Zone have already agreed timelines for zero emissions fleets across Oxford and will not be subject to charges.
For the Freight Transport Association (FTA), Environment Policy Manager Rebecca Kite has called for the councils to reconsider their strategy until zero-emission commercial vehicles become a viable alternative for local businesses.
She said: “It is simply too soon to implement such a punitive scheme; there are currently no zero-emission trucks on the market, and very limited options for vans. And without a workable definition for an Ultra-Low Emission Truck – something FTA is working with the Government to develop – the scheme is effectively a tax on essential freight vehicles.”
An informal consultation on the Zone will be open from 7 to 31 January, 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.
Last reviewed 13 January 2020