The country’s first zero emission zone (ZEZ) has begun operation in Oxford.
The February 28 launch of the ZEZ is the start of a pilot scheme which is expected to be expanded to cover most of the city centre in 2023.
The streets covered in the pilot are New Road between Bonn Square and its junction with Castle Street, Bonn Square, Queen Street, Cornmarket Street, New Inn Hall Street, Shoe Lane, Market Street from Cornmarket junction going east for 40 metres, Ship Street and St Michael’s Street.
The joint venture between Oxfordshire County Council and Oxford City Council is expected to offer insights for the wider scheme which will be subject to further public consultation.
The pilot will operate from 7am – 7pm all year round. All petrol and diesel vehicles, including hybrids, will incur a daily charge unless eligible for a discount or exemption. However, zero emission vehicles, such as electric cars, can enter the pilot area free.
The charge varies from £2 to £10 per day depending on emission levels. Automatic number plate recognition cameras have been installed to enforce charges. Various exemptions and discounts are available for businesses and residents in the ZEZ.
Cllr Duncan Enright, Oxfordshire County Council’s cabinet member for travel and development strategy, said: “The ZEZ pilot is a very important step towards our aim of moving towards a zero carbon transport system in the county.
“I want to thank all the residents and businesses who sent us their feedback and worked with us as we developed the pilot. Over the next year we will learn from this pilot and continue working with our communities before expanding the ZEZ.
“Poor air quality is a public health risk for everyone. The ZEZ will reduce toxic air pollution in our city and while making Oxford a safer, cleaner and better place for people who live and work here and for those who visit.”
Cllr Tom Hayes, deputy leader and cabinet member for green transport and zero carbon Oxford for Oxford City Council, said: “The start of the zero emission zone pilot is a landmark event for the city of Oxford and our journey to tackle toxic air pollution and reduce our carbon emissions.
“For five years the city council and I have been engaging with businesses and citizens to develop the zero emission zone, and I want to thank everyone for sharing their passion for cleaner air and knowledge about how to pragmatically achieve it. We will be using the learnings from this pilot to inform the expansion of the zone to the wider city centre in 2023.”
Funds raised by the ZEZ will go towards the scheme’s implementation and running costs while any remaining funds will go towards other schemes designed to help residents and businesses switch to zero emission vehicles.
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