Last chance to take part in Oxford Zero Emission Zone consultation

Residents and businesses in Oxford and Oxfordshire have less than a week remaining from a three-week consultation to share their views on proposals for cleaner air and reduced health risks in Oxford.

Oxford City Council and Oxfordshire County Council launched the consultation on the final draft proposals for the Oxford Zero Emission Zone on Tuesday 7 January.

The consultation will close on Friday 31 January at midnight.

Members of the public and businesses can have their say in the consultation via Oxfordshire County Council’s website.

Oxford city centre businesses were invited to ask questions and share their views on proposals for the UK’s first city centre Zero Emission Zone (ZEZ) at a forum held on 22nd January.

The new proposals consider the Red Zone, which covers a small area of the city centre and will start from December 2020 for all vehicles. The informal consultation is on a draft final scheme for the Red Zone, including the proposed charging and enforcement arrangements, which could begin in December 2020.

The Zero Emission Zone aims to reduce Oxford’s toxic air pollution levels, tackle the climate emergency, and improve the health of those living, working, and visiting in Oxford and beyond.

The key points of the latest proposals are:

  • The introduction of a charging scheme in the Red Zone between 7am-7pm, with a £10 charge for non-compliant vehicles entering the zone.
  • Discounts for all blue badge holders entering the zone until at least December 2024.
  • Exemptions for vehicles registered to businesses in the Red Zone until December 2024, followed by a discount until December 2030.
  • A 90% discount for residents living in the zone until December 2030.
  • Buses and Oxford licensed Hackney Carriages which drive within the planned Zero Emission have already agreed timelines for zero emissions fleets across Oxford.

The councils are looking for feedback on: the level the charges are set at, whether the discounts are appropriate, the suggested hours of operation for the charging scheme, what future phases of the Zero Emission Zone should include, and when they should be implemented.

Final Red Zone proposals will go out for formal consultation in March.

Councillor Tom Hayes, Cabinet Member for Zero Carbon Oxford, Oxford City Council, said: “When I talk to colleagues, community meetings, and knock on residents’ doors to pick up casework, the Zero Emission Zone regularly comes up in conversation. People have strong, reasonable, and well-judged views, but they might not share them in a formal consultation. We’re issuing one last push for Oxonians to share their views in order to make the Zero Emission Zone both fair and effective.“Are the daily charges for polluting vehicles too low or too high? Our two councils are proposing future phases of the ZEZ—should we introduce the Zero Emission Zone to the rest of the city centre sooner than 2021/22? Should that larger zone span a larger or smaller area? Should we seek to be a Zero Emission Oxford sooner or later than planned? Finally, should people living in the Red Zone pay 10% or 100% of the charge for driving their polluting vehicles? These are the burning questions we need answering. Everything you tell us gets read and listened to, and really could make all the difference.”

Councillor Yvonne Constance, Cabinet Member for Environment, Oxfordshire County Council, said: “Tackling air pollution and climate change is a great priority for Oxfordshire County Council. Not only will this project make a huge difference to the quality of life and health of people living and working in the city centre, we are showing that it is possible as we start to respond seriously with climate action. We can look forward to a city that will be a healthier and cleaner place for all. In doing so, we welcome the views of the public, residents and other stakeholders and ask them to submit their views on the proposals in our survey."