More than 750 individuals and businesses have completed a consultation on proposals to introduce a Zero Emission Zone in Oxford.
Initial results show there is huge support for the proposals, however many concerns have been raised which will be assessed in the next stage of work.
Oxford City Council and Oxfordshire County Council put forward the joint proposals in October. The Zero Emission Zone (ZEZ) in Oxford city centre would be the first in the world.
The proposals respond to Oxford’s toxic levels of air pollution. Despite a 36.9 per cent reduction in nitrogen dioxide (NO2) levels across Oxford in the last decade, parts of the city centre are still failing to meet legal limits on the pollutant.
A 2016 report found that air pollution contributes to cancer, asthma, stroke and heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and changes linked to dementia. It also found that, each year in the UK, outdoor air pollution causes around 40,000 deaths.
The Zero Emission Zone proposals would see pollution emitting vehicles banned from Oxford city centre in phases, starting with some vehicle types and a small number of streets in 2020 and, as vehicle technology develops, moving to all vehicle types across the whole city centre in 2035.
This would take air pollution levels in Oxford city centre down to near-background levels. For example, in the city centre’s most polluted street, George Street, a 74 per cent reduction in toxic nitrogen dioxide levels is expected by 2035.
In total, the six-week consultation, which closed on Sunday (26/11), received 755 responses: 691 responses to the online consultation on Oxfordshire County Council’s website, and 64 written representations from individuals and organisations.
Ninety per cent of those who responded to the online consultation said tackling poor air quality in Oxford is either “very important” or “important”.
The proposals ban emitting vehicles in five-year stages, expanding from a small number of streets in 2020. Each of these incremental proposals received support, with 71 per cent “strongly supporting” or “supporting” the 2020 proposals, 69 per cent the 2025 proposals, and 68 per cent the 2030 proposals.
However, when asked directly if the proposed zones are appropriate, 28 per cent said “yes”, but 20 per cent said the area “should be smaller” and 45 per cent said the area “should be larger”. Sixty one per cent said the zone should be extended beyond the proposed boundaries in the future.
The consultation has also highlighted a number of areas of concern from stakeholders, especially from businesses and individuals directly impacted by the proposals, which will need to be considered in detail.
These areas include deliveries to and from businesses within the zone, access to the zone for disabled people, the introduction of electric buses within the suggested timescale, and infrastructure improvements that are needed to encourage alternative means of transport, such as cycling and walking.
Oxford City Council and Oxfordshire County Council will now go through all the responses – 130,000 words in the online responses alone – in detail and work to develop a final version of the Zero Emission Zone. Further engagement with key stakeholders and impacted parties are planned for the start of 2018.
The results of the online consultation are as follows:
- How important is it to tackle poor air quality in central Oxford?
- Very important: 70% (485)
- Important: 20% (139)
- Neither important or unimportant: 6% (44)
- Unimportant: 2% (14)
- Very unimportant: 1% (9)
- Don’t know: 0% (0)
- Are the proposed ZEZ zones appropriate?
- Yes: 28% (192)
- No, should be a larger area: 45% (309)
- No, should be a smaller area: 20% (139)
- No opinion: 3% (21)
- Don’t know: 4% (30)
- The draft proposal proposes to exclude non-zero emission cars, taxis, buses and Light Commercial Vehicles (LCVs) in the red zone in 2020. Do you agree with this proposal?
- Strongly support: 57% (391)
- Support: 14% (98)
- Neither support or oppose: 3% (24)
- Oppose: 9% (61)
- Strongly oppose: 16% (113)
- Don't know: 1% (4)
- The draft proposal proposes to exclude non-zero emission cars, taxis, buses and light commercial vehicles (LCVs) in the orange zone in 2025. Do you agree with this proposal?
- Strongly support: 55% (379)
- Support: 14% (95)
- Neither support or oppose: 6% (40)
- Oppose: 10% (72)
- Strongly oppose: 14% (95)
- Don't know: 1% (10)
- The draft proposal proposes to exclude non-zero emission cars, taxis, buses and Light Commercial Vehicles (LCVs) in the green zone by 2030. Do you agree with this proposal?
- Strongly support: 54% (373)
- Support: 14% (96)
- Neither support or oppose: 6% (44)
- Oppose: 9% (63)
- Strongly oppose: 15% (104)
- Don't know: 2% (11)
- Do you think that the ZEZ should be extended beyond the green zone in the future?
- Strongly support: 47% (323)
- Support: 14% (96)
- Neither support or oppose: 9% (65)
- Oppose: 9% (59)
- Strongly oppose: 16% (113)
- Don't know: 5% (35)
- Do you think that historic vehicles should exempt from the ZEZ?
- Strongly support: 15% (104)
- Support: 15% (101)
- Neither support or oppose: 18% (127)
- Oppose: 22% (151)
- Strongly oppose: 24% (164)
- Don't know: 6% (44)
- Do you think mopeds/motorcycles should be exempt from the ZEZ?
- Strongly support: 10% (70)
- Support: 10% (68)
- Neither support or oppose: 14% (95)
- Oppose: 26% (183)
- Strongly oppose: 37% (258)
- Don't know: 2% (17)
For more information about the Zero Emission Zone proposals, including a newly-produced FAQ document, visit: www.oxford.gov.uk/zez.
Councillor John Tanner, Oxford City Council Executive Board Member for a Clean and Green Oxford, said: “I’m thrilled that most people are backing the proposal for a Zero Emission Zone in Oxford city centre.
“The reason for carrying out the consultation was to understand, in detail, what people’s needs are, so we can minimise the impact of the Zero Emission Zone on business and residents while maximising the impact on the city’s health. I am thankful that so many took time out of their busy schedules to take part.
“We have received more than 130,000 words in response to the online consultation alone, and we now need to go through this in detail. We must now work urgently to finalise the proposals to make sure they work for everyone and deliver a solution to the toxic and illegal levels of air pollution in Oxford city centre.”
Councillor Yvonne Constance, Oxfordshire County Council’s Cabinet member for Environment, said: “It is fantastic that so many individuals and businesses took the time to consider the Zero Emission Zone proposals for Oxford and that mostly are supportive of its ambitions.
“This is an exciting time for Oxfordshire County Council to be leading the way with the City Council on reducing pollution but now the hard work begins to see how we can implement the zone whilst allowing Oxford to thrive economically and remain a wonderful place for its residents to live. We are working with stakeholders, innovators and funding bodies to explore how we can use technology and new infrastructure to enable the ZEZ transition.”