Oxford Zero Emission Zone (ZEZ) frequently asked questions

Why are you proposing a Zero Emission Zone (ZEZ) in Oxford?

Why are you considering changes to the scheme?

Will the implementation of the ZEZ just spread air quality problems to the suburbs of Oxford?

What will the impact of the revised ZEZ be on private vehicles?

When will I need to replace my car?

What happens to residents who live in the green zone and who don’t have a zero emission vehicle?

How will tradespeople/utilities be able to access my business/property for emergency repairs?

Will disabled drivers of vehicles that do not comply with the ZEZ be exempt?

Will the ZEZ cause alterations to bus routes / stops?

How will I receive deliveries to my business located within the Zone?

Will Emergency vehicles be banned from entering the zone if they are not zero emission?

Will catering vans around Oxford be banned from the city centre?

Are motorbikes and mopeds excluded from the zone?

How will the restrictions be legally implemented and enforced?

Will hybrid vehicles be allowed in the ZEZ?

What are the next steps for implementation?

Why are you proposing to include HGVs in the early stages, where you excluded them in previous proposals?

It appears you are now considering charges rather than fines for non-compliant vehicles accessing the green zone... Why is this?

What about Private Hire vehicles, will they be impacted?

What is a zero emission vehicle and what vehicles will be allowed in the zone?

Why does the green zone exclude some parts of the city centre?

Why are you not requiring buses to be zero emission?

I have heard that electric cars till contribute to pollution, so how will that help reduce air pollution?

Will classic cars be restricted from entering Oxford under the proposals?

 

Why are you proposing a Zero Emission Zone (ZEZ) in Oxford?

The Royal College of Physicians and the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health found, in a 2016 report, that air pollution contributes to cancer, asthma, stroke and heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and changes linked to dementia. The study also found that outdoor air pollution causes about 40,000 early deaths every year in the UK.

The European Union requires national governments to keep annual average NO2 levels across their countries to below 40µg/m3. Despite a 42.9 per cent reduction in NO2 levels across Oxford in the last decade, parts of the city centre are still failing to meet this legal limit and health experts have warned that there is no safe level for NO2.

New data from the city’s 74 air pollution monitoring locations has shown that levels of toxic nitrogen dioxide (NO2) fell by an average of 22.7% between 2016 and 2017 – the largest ever year-to-year drop. But four of the city’s air pollution monitoring locations still registered NO2 levels above the legal limit in 2017

Oxford City Council has a legal duty to monitor the air quality within Oxford and a report is produced annually. See our latest Air Quality Annual Monitoring Report.

The majority of emissions and air pollution in the city centre is generated by motorised traffic. Moving to emission free transport solutions, through the introduction of a zero emission zone, is therefore the most effective solution to our air pollution problems. 

 

Why are you considering changes to the scheme?

Between 16 October and 26 November 2017 we held a public consultation on the council’s original proposals for the zone. In total, 755 individuals and businesses took part in the consultation. Although there was huge support for a Zero Emission Zone in Oxford, many concerns were raised. Following the public consultation, further discussions with affected organisations, businesses and individual were undertaken and the 2017 monitoring data has led the two councils to consider a different approach to the journey to zero emission transport in Oxford.  As part of this we have also explored in more detail the legal implementation and enforcement aspects of the scheme. The feedback received on legal implementation and from stakeholders has informed the current new approach.

 

Will the implementation of the ZEZ just spread air quality problems to the suburbs of Oxford?

It is expected that introducing a ZEZ will improve the quality of air within Oxford overall and beyond due to the restrictions on vehicles that can use the centre.  Vehicles entering the city centre travel to other parts of the city and county, so the emissions benefits will extend significantly beyond the zone.  Additionally, the county and city councils are investigating supplementary measures to improve air quality in areas that breach safe levels and have already committed to working on areas such as St Clements which experiences high levels of air pollution.

 

What will the impact of the revised ZEZ be on private vehicles?

The proposed 2020 zone would see loading and parking on the highway in the core of the city centre banned during the busy daytime hours except zero emission capable vehicles. It is unlikely to affect many private vehicles at this stage as it is limited to this area. It does however cover some blue badge parking spaces and it is proposed that blue badge holders will be exempt.

The councils are investigating options including the introduction of a charging scheme in 2022/23 for a larger area of the city, which would see only zero emission vans, lorries and buses able to enter for free. This may be extended to cover private cars by 2025.

 

When will I need to replace my car?

Government is planning to ban the production of all pollution emitting vehicles by 2040. In Oxford, under the current approach, private cars that are not zero emission are proposed to be banned from parking and loading on all roads in the inner area of the city centre in 2020 including Cornmarket Street, Queen Street, New Inn Hall Street, St Michael’s Street, Ship Street and Market Street for a number of hours during the day – most obviously during the busiest periods. There could also be charges or other measures that restrict non-zero emission cars entering the city centre by 2025, but this depends on further work.

 

What happens to residents who live in the green zone and who don’t have a zero emission vehicle?

Currently no decision has been made about what specific measures will be introduced to restrict vehicles entering the green zone, or how residents in the zone would be treated under those restrictions. The councils are considering including cars in the green zone element of the ZEZ by 2025, but how this is done depends on decisions made about transport demand management during 2019.

 

How will tradespeople/utilities be able to access my business/property for emergency repairs?

In the red zone, the restriction would be part-time so access by a non-zero emission vehicle would be possible outside the restricted times (these are likely to be set at the busiest times of the day). We also expect the industry to adapt in a similar way to the courier sector which has introduced business models based around the bike and low/zero emission vehicles.

 

Will disabled drivers of vehicles that do not comply with the ZEZ be exempt?

It is expected that blue badge holders will be exempt from the emissions-based parking and loading restrictions in the city centre in 2020.

 

Will the ZEZ cause alterations to bus routes / stops?

The ZEZ is not intended to change bus routes/bus stops, but instead bus companies will be encouraged to update their fleet.

 

How will I receive deliveries to my business located within the Zone?

Through the previous public consultation and engagement with impacted businesses we have gathered information about the challenges associated with deliveries within the zone. This is one reason why we are now proposing a part-time Zero Emission Zone in 2020. This will allow deliveries in non-zero emission vehicles to be made when there is least footfall in the city.

There are also a number of zero emission delivery companies already operating in Oxford and it is anticipated this market will develop to accommodate deliveries within the zone.

 

Will Emergency vehicles be banned from entering the zone if they are not zero emission?

Currently there are no zero emission emergency vehicles available and therefore emergency vehicles will not be banned from entering the zone.

                                                           

Will catering vans around Oxford be banned from the city centre?

Under current proposal all vehicles will be required to be zero emission in the city centre from 2020 in during the hours where restrictions apply, to be allowed to load and park. This would include catering vans.

 

Are motorbikes and mopeds excluded from the zone?

Currently no decision has been made as to whether to include motorcycles and mopeds in the proposals.

 

How will the restrictions be legally implemented and enforced?

The taxi emission requirements would be implemented through the city council’s taxi licensing powers and will be enforced by the city council.

The bus emission requirements would be implemented through the application of a Traffic Regulation Condition (TRC) to bus operators’ operating licences and enforced by the Traffic Commissioner.

The red zone requirements would be implemented through a Traffic Regulation Order (TRO) and enforced by the county council using automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) technology.

Options for enforcement of the green zone are being worked up. One approach could be the implementation of a local charging scheme (the same mechanism as used for the London Low Emission Zone and various proposed Clean Air Zones in other British cities) and enforcement by the county council using automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) technology.

 

Will hybrid vehicles be allowed in the ZEZ?

Under current proposals vehicles which meet the following definition will be allowed in the zone: any vehicle with emits less than 75g of CO2/km from the tailpipe and capable of at least 10 miles of zero emission driving.  This includes:

  • Pure electric vehicles
  • Range-extended electric vehicles
  • Certain plug-in hybrid vehicles
  • Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles

For more information visit the Go Ultra Low website.

 

What are the next steps for implementation?

The two councils are undertaking informal consultation with affected stakeholders during the beginning of 2019 to further refine the proposals.  Further technical work, including work on the financial implications will also be completed during this period. This will be followed by a public consultation on the proposals in autumn 2019.

 

Why are you proposing to include HGVs in the early stages, where you excluded them in previous proposals?

HGVs contribute 17% of emissions in the city centre while they only account for 5% of vehicle kilometres undertaken in the city centre. So while they only make up a small percentage of the traffic movements, their emissions are high.  We’re now proposing, based on recent air quality monitoring results, to include a Euro 6 requirement in the scheme and because Euro 6 HGVs are widely available it is therefore proposed that they are included in proposals much earlier.

While there are currently no zero emission alternatives to diesel HGVs it is possible to move some deliveries on to smaller zero emission transport modes. Oxford already has a number of zero emission delivery companies already operating and it is anticipated this market will develop to accommodate deliveries within the zone. Where it is not possible to undertake the deliveries in any other vehicle other than by HGV, deliveries must take place outside the hours where restrictions will apply in the city centre.

 

It appears you are now considering charges rather than fines for non-compliant vehicles accessing the green zone... Why is this?

A number of different options are being considered. One option could be to use an emission-based charging scheme. This would mean that the County Council, rather than the Police, could enforce the green zone restrictions.  In addition, a charging scheme would allow higher charges to be applied for non-compliant vehicles, and allows a high penalty charge for non-payment. 

Further work is needed on the financial implications and other technical and legal aspects before a decision to proceed can be made.  There would also need to be further public consultation before any charging scheme can be approved.

 

What about Private Hire vehicles, will they be impacted?

The private hire fleet is already relatively low emission: in 2016 nearly half of the private hire fleet licensed by Oxford City Council met the 2010 EURO standards as compared to only 7% for the hackney carriage fleet. However the private hire vehicles will be subject to the requirements of the Zero Emissions Zone as it expands in scope and area.

 

What is a zero emission vehicle and what vehicles will be allowed in the zone?

Under current proposals cars and vans which meet the following definition will be allowed in the zone: any vehicle with emits less than 75g of CO2/km from the tailpipe and capable of at least 10 miles of zero emission driving.  This includes:

  • Pure electric vehicles
  • Range-extended electric vehicles
  • Certain plug-in hybrid vehicles
  • Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles

For Hackney Carriages the UK Government’s ‘zero emission’ (ULEV) definition is CO2 emissions of less than 50g/km and capable of at least 112km (70 miles) of zero emission driving.

 

Why does the green zone exclude some parts of the city centre?

The zone boundary needs to allow routes for non-compliant vehicles to turn safely and without blocking the road, which is why some streets are not included.

 

Why are you not requiring buses to be zero emission?

Euro 6 buses have been found to reduce NO2 by 99.5%, which is why we have seen a significant improvement in air quality in recent years. The city is also due to have its first 100% electric double decker buses operating in the city in 2019. However moving the full bus fleet to zero emission operation requires significant infrastructure and vehicle investment, and the technology for intensive bus operation across a range of urban and inter-urban route lengths is not proven or affordable, so we are planning to implement a zero emission fleet in partnership with bus operators by 2035 at the latest, with an ambition to work together to achieve this by 2030 if possible.

 

I have heard that electric cars till contribute to pollution, so how will that help reduce air pollution?

An overview of the environmental benefits of zero emission vehicles has been provided on the Go Ultra Low website.

 

Will classic cars be restricted from entering Oxford under the proposals?

We are considering a special permit system for vehicles that have a ‘historic’ vehicle tax class. The same is being considered for hearses having to access the zone during the restricted times, and similar specific provisions may be made for other specific needs on a case-by-case basis.