Oxford’s proposed Zero Emission Zone (ZEZ) pilot has been formally approved by Oxfordshire County Council’s cabinet for launch in August.
Oxford will be one of the first places in Britain to introduce a ZEZ, which aims to reduce toxic air pollution levels, tackle the climate emergency and improve the health of residents, workers and visitors in the city.
‘Air pollution weakens our lungs and makes it harder to breathe. Dirty air cuts short life and our quality of life, and it's just not on,’ said Tom Hayes, deputy leader and cabinet member for Green Transport and Zero Carbon Oxford, Oxford City Council.
‘Giving Britain's first Zero Emission Zone the green light is a game-changer, a way of improving public health but also social justice because it is the poorest citizens who are most affected by toxic air.
‘As the UK's first council to set an air quality target which is tougher and tighter than the Government's own, the Zero Emission Zone will help us to provide the cleanest air that Oxford residents will have ever known.’
The ZEZ pilot will restrict polluting vehicles from key city centre streets during the day. Those who drive polluting vehicles into the zone will be charged a fee, with the level of the charge dependent on how polluting the vehicle is.
The pilot is the first phase of the Zero Emission Zone. It will allow both the county council and the city council to gain useful experience and information before introducing a larger Zero Emission Zone covering most of Oxford city centre in 2022, subject to further public consultation.
‘Tackling air pollution and climate change is a huge priority for Oxfordshire County Council,’ said Cllr Yvonne Constance, Oxfordshire County Council’s cabinet member for Environment.
‘Not only will the Zero Emission Zone make a difference to the quality of life and health of people living and working in the city centre, we are showing that change is possible as we start to respond seriously with climate action.
‘We can now look forward to a city that will be a healthier and cleaner place for all.’