Local authorities in Oxfordshire have unveiled plans to introduce the world’s first Zero Emission Zone in Oxford city centre.
Under the proposals, which are to be put out for consultation by Oxford City Council and Oxfordshire County Council, diesel and petrol vehicles would be banned from Oxford city centre in phases.
Some vehicle types would be barred from a small number of streets as early as 2020; then, as vehicle technology develops the restrictions would apply to all vehicles across the entire city centre in 2035.
Oxford’s local authorities say the city centre currently has illegally-high levels of toxic nitrogen dioxide, which is contributing to conditions including cancer, asthma and heart disease.
They hope the Zero Emission Zone proposals would cut the nitrogen dioxide level in Oxford’s most polluted street, George Street, by 74% by 2035, bringing it well below the legal limit.
Councillor John Tanner, Oxford City Council executive board member for ‘A Clean and Green Oxford’, said: “Toxic and illegal air pollution in the city centre is damaging the health of Oxford’s residents. A step change is urgently needed; the Zero Emission Zone is that step change.
“All of us who drive or use petrol or diesel vehicles through Oxford are contributing to the city’s toxic air. Everyone needs to do their bit – from national Government and local authorities, to businesses and residents – to end this public health emergency."
The RAC has described the proposals as ‘radical’, suggesting that local authorities would be better placed to first identify the most polluting vehicles, rather than simply implementing an outright ban on all non-zero emission vehicles from certain streets.
Nicholas Lyes, RAC roads policy spokesman, said: “Oxford appears to be considering a very radical approach to tackling its air quality problem.
“This will also mean that local residents who have invested in cleaner hybrid vehicles will now be targeted which seems both unfair and an unwelcome disincentive as the use of these vehicles should be being encouraged.
“There is little doubt that air pollution in our towns and cities must be reduced, but this should be done in a way that is fair to drivers, and targets the most polluting vehicles first.”
The consultation will launch on Monday 16 October.
Category: Public health.