Oxford will ban petrol and diesel cars from its city centre from 2020 onwards in the latest round of air quality plans.
It’ll be the first city in the UK to introduce such a ban, going further than London’s Congestion Charge and upcoming T-Charge for high-polluting diesel cars. Oxford City Council also declared that it would be the first zone of its type in the world.
The ban will reduce nitrogen dioxide levels in the city’s worst pollution blackspot, George Street, by 74%, returning it to natural levels of pollution.
The idea hasn’t yet been given the green light and will face a six-week public consultation. Traditionally, though, Oxford is an environmentally aware city, so the proposal is expected to face less opposition than the capital’s upcoming T-Charge.
Oxford’s zero emission zone will also evolve every five years. After the initial launch, the city will extend the area in 2025 and 2030; in 2035, non-zero-emission HGVs will also be banned from the area.
Oxford city councillor John Tanner said: “Everyone who uses Oxford centre has the right to breathe clean air. I would urge everyone who uses Oxford city centre to take part in the consultation. We need to know, in detail, what people’s needs are so that we can plan a zero emission zone that minimises impact on business and residents while maximising impact on the city’s health.”
Local bus operators have expressed support for the scheme, with Stagecoach and the Oxford Bus Company having invested heavily in electrified buses recently.