Chinese city looks to Oxfordshire for ‘green’ transport know-how to fight congestion

Backers of a brand new ‘future city’ in China have turned to Oxfordshire for innovative ideas about green transport, including the proposed ‘zero emissions zone’ in Oxford and Didcot Garden Town.

Oxfordshire County Council’s leader, Cllr Ian Hudspeth, is joining a UK government-funded delegation of politicians and urban development experts heading to China to share their knowledge of transport innovation as part of the development of a new area called Xiong’an, near Beijing.

As part of the knowledge sharing programme, around 20 students from leading Chinese universities are expected to work on a transport related project in Oxfordshire.

The county council is involved in the 'Smart Oxford' programme, which is looking for ways to meet rising demand for transport and solve the growing problems of congestion and air pollution. Projects include testing driverless cars on Oxfordshire roads, and sharing transport data as part of another research group looking at ways to improve public transport.

Oxfordshire is one of two UK localities – the other being London – featured at the conference this week. The county council has been working with the Oxford Programme for the Future of Cities, based at the University of Oxford, to prepare for the China conference.

Cllr Ian Hudspeth, Leader of Oxfordshire County Council, said:

“We all know that Oxfordshire is a technology hotspot with its fair share of transport challenges, which make it a good place to try to solve the problems of congestion and air pollution. I am delighted that our success in bringing together researchers, investors and the public sector has been recognised in China as they develop a brand-new city of the future.

“This is an opportunity to share what we have learned, and building relationships in China that could lead to fresh ideas and investment. I am particularly excited that we will be working with students from Chinese universities here in Oxfordshire on innovative transport projects, which means there will be some immediate benefit to the county.”

The plan for the Xiong’an New Area was announced in April 2017. The planned development of Xiong’an will create a city initially equivalent to the size of Paris, but growing to three times the size of New York in the longer term.

The city is about 100km from Beijing and is intended to take the pressure off the growing Chinese capital. The vision is to build a world-class green and smart city with hi-tech industries and efficient transport.

Dr Samuel Chen of the Oxford Programme for the Future of Cities, who arranged the trip in collaboration with the British Embassy in Beijing, said:

“I am really excited to be able to make this link between the county council and Xiong’an in China, working with leading universities such as the University of Oxford and Peking University. I am sure the leaders of the Xiong’an New Area will be able learn a lot from Oxfordshire’s experience in green transport. I am also sure that the UK delegation will build important relationships that will benefit Oxfordshire.”

The UK government says it is supporting the delegation because it believes there is an opportunity to exploit our position as a global leader in infrastructure, public private partnerships, green finance and smart technologies.