Oxford to ban polluting cars in 'world's first' zero emissions zone


Oxford plans to create Britain's first "zero-emission zone" by 2020. I would urge everyone who uses Oxford city centre to take part in the consultation.

The city centre now has illegal levels of nitrogen dioxide in its air, which contributes to diseases including cancer, asthma, stroke and heart disease. Over 40,000 deaths a year in the United Kingdom are caused by air pollution according to a 2016 report by the Royal College of Physicians and Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health. Several zones within the city have seen a spike of nitrogen dioxide pollutants that have exceeded the legal limit.

The Councils are taking other measures to help residents and visitors lower emissions. Further funding was requested in June to progress the ZEZ proposal.

But if Oxford's zone doesn't have a tangible impact on the city's deadly air pollution levels until at 2025, then it'll be more sham than saviour.

Rupert Stuart-Smith, President of the Oxford Climate Society, said: "Oxford Climate Society welcomes Oxford City Council's proposed Zero Emissions Zone to cut the amount of toxic air breathed in by students and residents in central Oxford". A step change is urgently needed; the Zero Emission Zone is that step change.

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Oxfordshire county councillor Yvonne Constance said: "We want to hear from everyone who uses the city centre - including businesses, bus and taxi firms and local residents - so that we get the fullest possible picture".

On Monday, a six-week public consultation will be launched that will look at views on the speed of the implementation, as well as the roads and vehicle types included in the scheme. "Everyone needs to do their bit, from the national government and local authorities to businesses and residents, to end this public health emergency".

And on these roads, the council admits in its planning document, "there is very little traffic" with "very few emissions" and the ban "would potentially have little overall effect on air quality". Tell us what you think in the comments area below! Although the United Kingdom will not be in the European Union by 2020 local councils are planning on the basis of regulations as they now stand. To date, the Government has provided Oxford £1.3m to install charging points for electric taxis and cars.

Leeds City Council Councillor Richard Lewis heralded the move as the start of a "revolution in bus travel". "Pragmatism will be an important part of anything we plan but we have set the ambition and now we would like to hear people's views on our proposals". More recently, Transport for London announced an extension of their current low-emissions zone to become and ultra-low emission zone from 2020.

The zero-emissions zone plan will be implemented gradually.