Oxford’s pilot Zero Emission Zone (ZEZ) has gone live. The scheme which is a Pilot at this stage, covers 8 Streets in the centre of the city, if it is deemed a success it is likely to be extended.
ALL petrol and diesel vehicles are charged £2 to £10 daily - including hybrid cars. Only 100% electric cars are exempt from daily charges enforced from 7am-7pm
Unlike London's Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) and Birmingham's Clean Air Zone (CAZ), charges will be enforced on all vehicles that have a combustion engine, with only 100 per cent pure-electric models exempt, as part of efforts to reduce air pollution in the city.
The charge to drive along the central streets will be enforced by Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) cameras.
The main aim of the scheme is to cut air pollution levels in Oxford. Once results are determined a public consultation will be held concerned with potentially expanding the ZEZ to cover much of the city centre.
Motorists will be able to pay the ZEZ on the county council’s website, though they will only be able to do so from the first day the pilot scheme launches.
The scheme, initially, will run between the hours of 7am and 7pm, and there are discounts and exemptions for some road users, including health and care workers, Blue Badge holders and students with financial hardship.
Oxford City Councillor Tom Hayes commenting on the launch of the ZEZ said:
'The City Council has chosen to set the toughest air quality standards of any local authority in the country. There is no safe level of air pollution. As the Chair of the Zero Carbon Oxford Partnership, we set up, the City Council has helped to establish a data-led, science-based target of creating a net zero city by 2040. We have high ambition matched with a pragmatic desire to work with anyone and listen to a range of views; that’s how you meet the climate crisis and clean our dirty air and deliver social justice at the same time.'
It should be remembered that Guildford has identified issues with Air Quality around the one-way system and alng the A3 corridor.
Oxford has also submitted a bid to the Zero Emission Bus Regional Areas (ZEBRA) scheme for £32Million. This will be added to funds from bus operators (Go-Ahead, Oxford Bus Company, Stagecoach) and the county council to fund 159 electric buses at a total cost of circa £80million. The buses will cover a wide area stretching across Kidlington, Sandford, Cumnor and Wheatley.
Tim Bearder, the county council’s cabinet member for highway management highlighted that government has an ambition within the ‘levelling up agenda’ bring the country’s public transport up to London standards.
The county council also recognise that if the bid is successful, they will need to re-engineer the network to make that investment work effectively and efficiently. It is recognised that the transition to electric will require public policies to reduce congestion, speed up bus journey times by 10 per cent, and encourage active travel such as cycling and walking.
The Government decision is expected next month and, if successful, the new electric buses should start to be delivered to Oxford’s roads between the summer of 2023 and the spring of 2024.
The new buses are expected to cut an estimated 9,200 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions each year.
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