Businesses will debate the UK’s first city centre zero emissions zone which could be in operation in Oxford this year.

The city and county councils have jointly published draft proposals which, from December 1, would create a small central red zone where all vehicles, other than zero-emission vehicles, will be charged £10 to enter (rising to £20 after four years). The councils are also proposing a wider green zone from 2021/22 where charges would vary depending on emissions.

Now a forum has been arranged for city centre business owners and managers on Wednesday, January 22 at Oxford Town Hall and the city council will meet businesses, including delivery companies throughout the consultation.

The councils  launched an informal consultation on January 7 on a draft scheme for the red zone. The charge will apply to non-compliant vehicles entering the zone between 7am and 7pm on any day.

There will be discounts for blue badge holders but only until December 2024. Businesses registered within the zone will be exempted until December 2024 and given discounts until 2030. Residents living within the zone will get a 90 per cent discount until 2030.

Cllr Tom Hayes, cabinet member for Zero Carbon Oxford, Oxford City Council, said: “We’re proposing to charge commuters coming in and out of the city centre if they use polluting vehicles.

“Businesses in the Zero Emission Zone won’t have to pay a charge on their own vehicles for the next four years to support them to transition to zero. We are encouraging zero-emission capable firms such as Pedal and Post and OxWash through our Zero Emission Zone.”

But Thames Tap consultant and former Oxfordshire property lawyer, Hugh Blaza, said little impact will be felt at first.

He said: “The ZEZ announcement by Oxford City Council is encouraging – or at least it appears to be.

“When you look at the roads which will form the red zone, you see that they’re already either pedestrianised or ‘no through’ roads.

“So the impact of the ZEZ will surely be minimal. Start extending this to the really congested bottlenecks like High Street, Oxpens and the Abingdon and Botley roads and then we’ll start to notice the difference.

“But is the transport infrastructure there for all those who either want or need to get into the centre of Oxford?

“Whoever decided that the new Westgate Centre needed to provide 1,000 car parking spaces clearly didn’t think it was coming any time soon.”

The consultation runs until January 31. Once the council has gathered feedback, a further consultation will be launched in March.


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