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Oxford plans to phase in ban of diesel and petrol vehicles after 2020

EV dealers near Oxford have an opportunity for growth as councillors have proposed a ‘zero emission zone’ in Oxford city centre.

It is believed that this would be the world’s first zero emission zone, with the ban introduced in phases, starting with some vehicle types and a small number of streets in 2020 and, as vehicle technology develops, moves to all vehicle types across the whole city centre in 2035.

This would take air pollution levels in Oxford city centre down to near-background levels. For example in the city centre’s most polluted street, George Street, a 74% reduction in toxic nitrogen dioxide (NO2) levels is expected by 2035.

On Monday (October 16), the city and county councils will launch a six-week public consultation on the proposals – seeking views on the speed of the implementation, and the vehicle types and roads affected.

The councils are seeking responses from everyone who uses the city centre – including businesses, fleet operators and local residents – to help shape the final scheme, which will be published next year.

The European Union requires national governments to keep annual average NO2 levels across their countries to below 40µg/m3. Despite a 36.9% reduction in NO2 levels across Oxford in the last decade, parts of the city centre are still failing to meet this legal limit. Although the UK will not be in the EU by 2020 local councils are planning on the basis of regulations as they currently stand.

Latest monitoring data has found that air pollution appears to have plateaued above the legal limits in some parts of the city. Between 2011 and 2013, average NO2 levels across the city centre fell by 18.9%; but between 2014 and 2016 they fell by just 3.9%.

The zero emission zone proposals would see: non-zero emission taxis, cars, light commercial vehicles and buses excluded from Queen Street, Cornmarket Street, New Inn Hall Street, Market Street, Ship Street and St Michael’s Street from 2020.

From 2025, non-zero emission taxis, cars, light commercial vehicles and buses would be excluded from roads including New Road, the southern part of Worcester Street, George Street, Magdalen Street, Magdalen Street East, Pembroke Street, Speedwell Street, Norfolk Street and Castle Street.

From 2030, non-zero emission taxis, cars, light commercial vehicles and buses would be excluded from all roads within Hollybush Row, Hythe Bridge Street, Worcester Street, Beaumont Street, St Giles’, part of Parks Road, South Parks Road, St Cross Road, Longwall Street, Merton Street, Blue Boar Street, St Aldate’s and Thames Street.

Finally, from 2035 all non-zero-emission vehicles, including HGVs, would be excluded from within the above area.

However, the proposal for a zero emission zone relies on technology being sufficiently developed to allow this to be practical.

The City Council, supported by the County Council, has already won £500,000 of Government funding to install charging points for electric taxis and £800,000 of Government funding to install 100 electric vehicle charging points for Oxford residents to support the implementation of the zero emission zone.

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