Oxford City Council has approved the introduction of a zero-emission zone (ZEZ) pilot, which will start in August. The city is also one of two Electric Bus City’s in the UK together with Coventry and will be the first in the UK to introduce a ZEZ.
The trial that has now been formally approved will see any but electric vehicles banned from the town centre during the day. Those who drive polluting vehicles into the ZEZ will be charged, with the level of charge depending on how polluting the vehicle is. Oxfordshire County Council’s cabinet will have final sign off on the scheme’s introduction, as the highways authority at their meeting this Tuesday.
The zero-emission zone pilot will allow both councils to gain experience and information before introducing a larger zero emission zone covering most of Oxford city centre in 2022. The introduction of such as ZEZ would require further public consultation.
The restrictions and exemptions applied within the pilot are to be the same in the expanded ZEZ, which would cover 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 its junction with Cornmarket; Ship Street; and St Michael’s Street.
The envisioned charges range from 2, 4, and 10 pounds depending on the vehicle’s emission standard. It would double from 2025, then amounting to 4, 8, and 12 pounds. Zero-emission vehicles are free to drive through with anything below Euro 6 demanding the highest price. The charges would be applied between 7 am and 7 pm, seven days a week.
The ZEZ would work in a similar way to the London Congestion Charge and Ultra Low Emission Zone. Signs will notify drivers when entering the zone, and Oxford is also considering Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) cameras to enforce the zone.
If finally approved pending the trial, Oxford would be the first city in the UK to run a zero-emission zone rather than a low or ultra-low emission zone. London’s plan to bring forward the introductions of such zones across the capital from 2025 to 2020 appears delayed.
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