Background to the Oxford Zero Emission Zone (ZEZ)

March 2020 proposals

Go back to the Zero Emission Zone (ZEZ) homepage here

Please note, these proposals are from March 2020. 

20/03/2020 update

Amid the current situation with coronavirus with Government acknowledging an economic crisis, Oxford City Council and Oxfordshire County Council recognise that businesses and residents across the city, including those in the Red Zone, need to focus all of their attention on managing the current and potential impacts on their trade and way of life. The councils have therefore decided that during this period of uncertainty, businesses should not be expected to devote time to the detailed logistical planning required for the Oxford ZEZ.

Therefore, the current plan to launch the Red Zone for the Oxford Zero Emission Zone in December 2020 is now postponed. We will be closing the current formal consultation on the Red Zone but responses submitted so far will be read and saved. If you have provided contact details, we will contact you at the start of the next consultation to confirm if you wish to add your previous response. The councils plan to resume the consultation in late 2020, and a view to implement the scheme in the Summer of 2021.

Read full statement here

Summary of proposals - March 2020

Oxfordshire County Council and Oxford City Council are proposing to create a Zero Emission Zone (ZEZ) in Oxford city centre, starting in December 2020.  The ZEZ would be based on a road user charging scheme.

The ZEZ would cover the ‘Red Zone’ – coloured red on the map below

Map of Red Zone which includes Bonn Square, Queen Street, Cornmarket, Ship Street, St Michael's street, and New Inn Hall Street

Map of Red Zone which consists of Bonn Square, Queen Street, Cornmarket, part of Market Street, Ship Street, St Michael’s Street, New Inn Hall Street, and Shoe Lane.

Zero emission vehicles would be able to drive in the zone free of charge.  Other vehicles would be permitted in the zone but would have to pay £10 per day from February 2021 (rising to £20 per day from August 2025) to drive in the zone between 7am and 7pm.  There would be discounts and exemptions for some road users, including residents and businesses in the zone.

The ZEZ would lead to cleaner air, quieter streets, and contribute to action on climate change.

Based on the consultation feedback, the following updates have been proposed to the scheme:

  • Eight week “soft launch” phase: A soft launch of the scheme which would see the Zero Emission Zone implemented but no charges payable or penalty charges issued until 1 Feb 2021. This is in order to address concerns about the scheme starting in the run up to Christmas 2020, a key trading period for city centre businesses.
  • Start date for second phase of Red Zone to be changed to summer 2025: To address concerns about the scheme starting in the run up to Christmas 2024, a key trading period for city centre businesses
  • Commitment to work with ZEZ residents and businesses to develop supporting measures: To address concerns that support is required to help people comply.
  • Blue badge holder discount extended to include international equivalents: This update has been made to address concerns raised about the impact on access for people with disabilities. Both councils will explore whether it is necessary and feasible to broaden this exemption to cover people with disabilities who do not hold a Blue Badge or equivalent.
  • Disabled tax class vehicles exempt in all years: This has been made to address concerns raised about the availability and cost of specially adapted vehicles for people with disabilities.
  • Update to discount for blue badge holders or international equivalent: The originally proposed £20 daily charge from December 2024 for blue badge has been reduced to £10 from August 2025. This will be reviewed by the end of 2024 to establish whether any charge is appropriate.
  • Review zero emission standard for large vans and lorries: Both councils will review zero emission standard for large vans and lorries in light of Ultra Low Emission Truck (ULET) standard, when available. This is in order to address concerns about consistency with national guidance.
  • Exemptions for certain special vehicle categories: To address concerns about availability of alternative options where mode shift or re-timing is not possible and to ensure consistency with Clean Air Zones and London ULEZ.


The consultation documents giving details of the final proposals are below, along with a questionnaire to give us your views. 

The questionnaire allows you to upload documents so if you are responding on behalf of an organisation you may want to use this facility to submit a PDF letter or other documents.