Oxford’s proposed Zero Emission Zone (ZEZ) pilot is set for approval, after further improvements were made following a final round of public consultation.
If Oxfordshire County Council and Oxford City Council’s Cabinets agree to the latest version of the zone at this month’s Cabinet meetings, it will be due to be introduced in August 2021. Oxford will be one of the first places in Britain to introduce a 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 look forward to a city that will be a healthier and cleaner place for all.”
Councillor Tom Hayes, Oxford City Council’s Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Green Transport and Zero Carbon Oxford, said: “Now, more than ever, we are alive to the importance of good health and well-being. Everyone has the right to breathe the cleanest air possible and both councils are moving forward with the introduction of Oxford’s Zero Emission Zone this year. Years of extensive consultation with businesses and citizens have got us to this pivotal point, and this plan reflects their views. Years ago, we began to imagine a better Oxford with cleaner air and this Zero Emission Zone is a pragmatic yet visionary route to cleaner air and better health.”
The city and county councils have held three formal rounds of public consultation since the ZEZ was first proposed in 2015. They held a final round of consultation on the pilot between November and January 2021.
More than 900 people took part and the results show that residents and businesses are broadly in favour of the proposals.
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 dependent on how polluting the vehicle is.
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 city council’s Cabinet will consider the proposals on 10 March with the county council’s Cabinet making its decision as the highway authority on 16 March.
In 2015, Oxfordshire County Council’s Local Transport Plan set an ambition to start a ZEZ in Oxford from 2020 with the aim of reducing air pollution. Over the subsequent years, the proposals have been developed through extensive public and stakeholder consultation.
The final formal consultation on the ZEZ pilot proposals took place between 20 November 2020 and 17 January 2021, after having been delayed from March 2020 due to the pandemic.