Published: Wednesday, 4 March 2020

A majority of Oxford residents are prepared to change their driving behaviours to Oxford city centre for the Oxford Zero Emission Zone, results from the January 2020 informal consultation has revealed

Around 900 individuals, businesses and organisations across Oxford and Oxfordshire responded to a consultation on the final draft proposals for the Oxford Zero Emission Zone.

Its findings will inform a small number of amendments to the proposals that will be reflected in the final formal consultation, to be launched later this week.

The January consultation provided a range of views.  As in previous consultations, some feel the scheme is unreasonably stretching, while others feel it is not sufficiently ambitious. However there was clear indication that introduction of the proposed Red Zone covering eight city centre streets, and introducing a charge for all non-compliant vehicles, would lead to a change in behaviour by most people. Only 14% said they would continue to drive in and pay the full charge. The remaining 86% said they would enter the zone in a compliant vehicle, enter outside of the charging hours, travel using bus, bike or walking, or they would not enter the zone at all.

The attitudes expressed in the consultation responses also highlighted a balance of views in agreement with the proposed charging levels, discounts, and hours of operation.

The key points of the January 2020 proposals were:

  • The introduction of a charging scheme in the Red Zone between 7am-7pm, with a £10 charge for non-compliant vehicles entering the zone.
  • Discounts for all blue badge holders entering the zone until at least December 2024.
  • Exemptions for vehicles registered to businesses in the Red Zone until December 2024, followed by a discount until December 2030.
  • A 90% discount for residents living in the zone until December 2030.
  • Buses and Oxford licensed Hackney Carriages which drive within the planned Zero Emission have already agreed timelines for zero emissions fleets across Oxford and are subject to other interim emission requirements.

Both councils will be making a formal decision on implementation in the spring. If approved, the Oxford Zero Emission Zone could begin in December 2020, with a wider Green Zone, covering the rest of the city centre, proposed for introduction in 2021/22.

Proposals for the Oxford Zero Emission Zone have developed through progressive rounds of public consultation - in 2017, 2019 and 2020.

Consultation results:

The councils were looking for feedback on the level the charges are set at, whether the discounts are appropriate, the suggested hours of operation for the charging scheme, what future phases of the Zero Emission Zone should include, and when they should be implemented.

A summary of the consultation results:

Entering the Red Zone

Respondents were asked about how they would enter the Red Zone if the Oxford Zero Emission Zone was in place.

13% said that they would enter outside of the charging hours, 13% said they would enter in a compliant zero emission vehicle, 18% would enter using a bus, bike, or by walking, 14% would pay the full charge to bring a non-compliant vehicle to the zone, 40% responded that they would not enter the zone at all.

Level of charges

Respondents were asked: “What are your views on the level of daily charges proposed for non-compliant vehicles?”

29% of respondents thought the proposed level of charge for non-compliant vehicles was too high, 22% thought it too low, with the largest group expressing a view believing the proposed charging level to be ‘about right’ (42%).

Appropriateness of discounts

Respondents were asked about the proposed discounts and exemptions for businesses and residents in the Red Zone, and blue badge holders.

There was support for the proposed discounts and exemptions for vehicles registered to residents and businesses within the zone, and for Blue Badge holders which was greater in each case than opposition to that proposal.

Hours of operation

Respondents were asked: “What are your views on the proposed hours when charges would apply for non-compliant vehicles (7am to 7pm, every day)?”

15% of respondents thought that the hours of charging should cover less of the day, with 38% believing the charging period should be extended and 30% feeling the proposed hours are ‘about right’.

Future phases of the Zero Emission Zone

Members of the public were asked to provide their views on the future Green Zone of the Oxford Zero Emission Zone. This will be used to inform further work on the Green Zone, which will go to consultation in 2020.

“I would like to thank everyone who shared their views on the final draft proposals for the Oxford Zero Emission Zone. The responses clearly show that people would be prepared, because of the ZEZ, to change their behaviour away from driving polluting vehicles. Our Councils have listened to feedback to make the ZEZ both fair and effective." 

Councillor Tom Hayes, Cabinet Member for Zero Carbon Oxford, Oxford City Council

“The proposed Zero Emission Zone is a tangible step in our work to deliver the people of Oxford a cleaner and safer environment. I would like to thank those that submitted feedback to our Councils in January and it is encouraging to find that a majority of those who replied would be willing to adapt to help reduce air pollution.”

Councillor Yvonne Constance, Cabinet Member for Environment, Oxfordshire County Council

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