Background to the Oxford Zero Emission Zone (ZEZ)

Background to Oxford's Zero Emission Zone

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Oxford Zero Emission Zone Pilot - July 2021 update

The Oxford Zero Emission Zone (ZEZ) pilot will be launched later this year following the resolution of unforeseen technical issues in the supporting online systems which allow the scheme to be fully effective.

Parts of Oxford city centre currently have high levels of toxic nitrogen dioxide and the aims of Oxfordshire County Council and Oxford City Council in introducing a ZEZ is to tackle that issue. The ZEZ pilot aims to provide opportunities for both councils to understand how best to extend the scheme across the city centre to reduce the city’s air pollution levels, tackle the climate emergency and improve the health of residents and visitors in Oxford and beyond.

Both councils believe that the scheme should be introduced without creating difficulty for local businesses and residents to work well with the scheme and propose a temporary postponement to ensure a full launch without glitches.

Since the scheme’s approval in March 2021, following several consultations, both Councils have been working, amid the need to respond to the pandemic, to prepare the back office and enforcement systems, as well as working with businesses and residents to ensure an effective launch of the scheme. 

This work has included, trialling e-cargo bikes to Oxford’s Covered Marketupdating the Lord Mayor’s car to a Nissan Leaf, the arrival of an electric van for community groups, the start of work to install new rapid electric vehicle chargers for taxi driversexpansion of the e-scooter trial across Oxford, and the application for the government’s Zero Emission Bus Regional Areas (ZEBRA) scheme.  

In addition, the councils are working with the Energy Saving Trust to deliver workshops to taxi and private hire drivers to support them in their transition to electric vehicles.

As already agreed through engagement with businesses in the zone, the system to register for discounts and exemptions under the ZEZ pilot will open six weeks before the ZEZ pilot start date.

All other workstreams for the ZEZ pilot are on track and both councils will provide an update on the resolution of the online systems to allow for a launch this year.

Read the full statement

Oxford Zero Emission Zone Pilot  - March 2021 approval

Oxford City Council and Oxfordshire County Council are set to introduce a Zero Emission Zone (ZEZ) in Oxford city centre in August 2021.

The plans were approved by both Oxford City Council and Oxfordshire County Council Cabinet's in March 2021.

The ZEZ Pilot would be based on a road user charging scheme and would cover the streets outlined in red below.

[Map of ZEZ Pilot 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]


[Map of ZEZ Pilot 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.]

The ZEZ will be implemented through a road user charging scheme.

This means vehicles used in the zone would be subject to charges, depending on their emissions.  

  • Only 100% zero emission vehicles would be able to be used in the zone free of charge.
  • Other vehicles would be permitted in the zone but would be charged from £2 to £10 per day (rising to between £4 and £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 disabled motorists, residents and businesses in the zone.

The ZEZ will lead to cleaner air, quieter streets and contribute to the councils’ action on climate change. The ZEZ is designed to reduce traffic volumes, encourage the uptake of zero emission vehicles and lead to other positive behavioural changes; all of these would reduce vehicle emissions and hence air pollution whilst maintaining access for those who need it. 

Find out more about the ZEZ Pilot plans.

November 2020 consultation 

The Councils began a final consultation on the Red Zone in March 2020, but this was suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic.     

Reflecting on the feedback from the January 2020 ZEZ consultation, the experience of COVID-19, and the feedback from the temporary city centre bus gates survey in the summer, the councils have made several changes to the ZEZ proposals and launched an updated final consultation on the ZEZ Pilot in November 2020.

A formal consultation on the ZEZ Pilot ran from 20 November 2020 to 17 January 2021. 

Transcript of video



The consultation documents provided details of the final proposals are below, along with a questionnaire.