Time is running out to give your views on the Oxford Zero Emission Zone pilot

Published: Thursday, 7th January 2021

Time is running out for residents of Oxford and beyond to submit their views on plans for a road charging scheme for cleaner and greener city under a current consultation, which closes on 17 January.

The proposed Zero Emission Zone (ZEZ) pilot aims to reduce the city’s air pollution levels, tackle the climate emergency and improve the health of residents, workers and visitors to Oxford and beyond.

So far, 400 responses have been submitted to the final consultation, which opened in November.

“2021 will be a landmark year in Oxford’s journey to improve air quality and tackle the climate emergency. After first proposing this scheme in 2017, we have worked closely with Oxfordshire County Council to ensure that the scheme is the strongest it can be, while also listening to the views of residents and businesses.

“We know the impact that air pollution can have on people’s health, and the ZEZ will help us make a difference both in Oxford and beyond.

“Now, as we are over half-way through the final consultation on the ZEZ pilot, we want to remind residents that this is their opportunity to share their views on the proposals. I encourage everyone to read the latest proposals and share their views.”

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

“Tackling air pollution and climate change is a huge priority for Oxfordshire County Council. Not only will this project make a difference to the quality of life and health of people living and working in the city centre, we are showing that change is possible as we start to respond seriously with climate action. We can look forward to a city that will be a healthier and cleaner place for all. To get us there, it is important to understand public views on the latest proposals for the pilot zone and I would like to encourage all residents to have their say."

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

The ZEZ proposals follow increasing focus locally, nationally and worldwide about the harmful impact of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) emissions from vehicles and follows both the city council and county council recognising a climate emergency and making commitments to cut carbon emissions. Transport accounts for about 75 per cent of nitrogen dioxide pollution in Oxford, and 50 tonnes of CO2 are emitted by road traffic in Oxford every morning rush hour.

The ZEZ is part of a wider local transport plan which aims to improve connectivity, reduce emissions and support sustainable growth across Oxford and Oxfordshire. Oxford City Council’s draft Air Quality Action Plan sets a local target of 30 µg/m3 across Oxford by 2025, which the ZEZ will help achieve.

In early 2020, both councils consulted on their Connecting Oxford proposals to tackle congestion and improve public transport connections into and across Oxford. Together the two schemes aim to create a zero emission transport system across Oxford.

The councils consulted on initial proposals for a ZEZ in 2017, published updated proposals in January 2019, and consulted informally on final draft proposals (focused on the Red Zone charging scheme) in January 2020. The two councils began a final consultation on the Red Zone in March 2020, but this was suspended due to the pandemic. 

Reflecting on the feedback from the January 2020 ZEZ consultation, the experience of COVID-19, and the feedback from the temporary bus gates survey last summer, the councils have made several changes to the ZEZ proposals. 

The main change is the proposal for the ZEZ pilot to have exactly the same requirements as those proposed for the subsequent larger ZEZ. This will allow the councils to accelerate the larger ZEZ, delivering greater overall benefits sooner.

The ZEZ would be implemented through a road user charging scheme, which means vehicles used in the zone would be subject to charges, depending on their emissions. Only 100 per cent zero emission vehicles would be able to be used in the zone free of charge. 

Discounts are proposed for certain vehicles and road users including residents’ and businesses’ vehicles and Blue Badge holders. Some of these are transitional discounts, which would only apply temporarily, while others would apply permanently. 

Full details of the plans being consulted on for the pilot zone can be found on the county council’s website.

Have your say:

Responses to this consultation will be reported to the councils’ Cabinets in March 2021 and will inform their decisions about the scheme. 

Please give us your views on this consultation by 17 January 2021, 23:59. There are several ways to respond: 

Zero Emission Zone 
Oxfordshire County Council.
New Road 
Oxford, 
OX11ND 

A printed version of the online questionnaire is available on request. Residents can call 01865 792422 to request one.