Oxford City Council has today launched the UK’s first ‘Zero Emission Zone’ (ZEZ), which will mean daily charges on drivers of all petrol and diesel vehicles as well as hybrid cars.
Oxford has now implemented charges on all vehicles that have a combustion engine. Only 100 per cent pure-electric models will be exempt. The pilot programme is aimed at tackling pollution in the city.
The move is similar to London’s Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) and Birmingham’s Clean Air Zone (CAZ), with the exception that hybrid vehicles will not be permitted in Oxford’s new Zero Emission Zone.
Oxfordshire County Council and Oxford City Council aim to gain useful insights with the ZEZ pilot that will enable the councils to introduce a larger ZEZ covering most of Oxford city centre next year (2023), subject to further public consultation.
Combustion engines will be charged between 7am to 7pm, all year around. This means drivers of all petrol and diesel vehicles, including hybrids, will have to pay a daily charge. Exemptions and discounts will be possible for businesses and residents in the zone. Charges vary from £2 to £10 per day depending on the emission levels of the vehicle and Automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) cameras have been installed to enforce the zone. Only zero-emission vehicles will be able to enter the ZEZ without charges.
So far, the scheme covers only a small central area. If the pilot is successful, it will be extended to cover the entire city centre on a permanent basis from 2023. In this case, charges are set to double in 2025.
Duncan Enright, the cabinet member for travel and development strategy, said it was the “latest measure to clean up the air in our historic city centre”. Tim Dexter, campaigns manager for air quality for the charity Asthma + Lung UK, called it a “watershed moment for tackling air pollution, setting the level of ambition other local authorities should be aiming for in dealing with the UK’s toxic air crisis”. Mr Dexter said the charity also supported plans to widen the ZEZ .