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First zero emission zone goes live in Oxford

Charge point plugged into electric car

The UK’s first zero emission zone (ZEZ) has gone live in Oxford today (Moday, February 28), with internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles and hybrids charged to enter the city.

The daily charge applies unless operators are eligible for a discount or exemption. However, zero emission vehicles, such as electric cars, will be able enter the pilot area free of charge.

The charge will vary from £2 to £10 per day depending on the emission levels of the vehicle. Automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) cameras have been installed to enforce rules within the zone.   

Cllr Duncan Enright, Oxfordshire County Council’s cabinet member for travel and development strategy, said it was a “proud moment” for the city.

“The first ZEZ scheme in the country is launching in Oxford,” he continued. “We are taking concrete actions to improve air quality in the city and to make it cleaner and safer.

“Our vision is to create a zero-carbon transport network by 2040 and the ZEZ pilot is an important step towards achieving that vision.

“We will learn from the pilot and in the coming months we will consult with local communities as we develop plans to expand the ZEZ across the city centre. We hope that residents, businesses and visitors will join us in our journey towards a carbon neutral future.”

The pilot will launch in a small number of streets in the city centre including: New Road, between Bonn Square and its junction with Castle Street; Bonn Square; Queen Street; Cornmarket Street; New Inn Hall Street; Shoe Lane; Market Street, from Cornmarket junction east for 40 metres; Ship Street; and St Michael’s Street.

The pilot will allow Oxfordshire County Council and Oxford City Council to gain useful insights before introducing a larger ZEZ covering most of Oxford city centre next year, subject to further public consultation. 

The facility to make ZEZ payments is now live on the county council’s website.

ZEZ charges for driving a polluting vehicle can be paid up to six days in advance, on the day the vehicle is driven in the zone, and up to six days after the vehicle has been driven inside the zone.  

Charges will apply from 7am to 7pm, seven days a week, all year round. The daily charge covers the entire day, so a vehicle can enter and be used within the area on multiple occasions each day. Charges will not apply to vehicles that are parked within the zone and do not move.

Cllr Tom Hayes, deputy leader and cabinet member for green transport and Zero Carbon Oxford, said: “As the Chair of the Zero Carbon Oxford partnership, 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.”

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