Oxford City Council has secured almost £200,000 of Government funding to purchase electric delivery vehicles and install charging points for Covered Market traders.
The funding is part of the City Council’s efforts to help Covered Market businesses get ready for the introduction of the world’s first Zero Emission Zone, to be introduced progressively across the city centre from 2020.
The money will be used to purchase two electric light goods vehicles and three cargo bikes for use of Covered Market traders, and install three electric vehicle charging points in Market Street.
It will also seek to provide storage space, which will enable night-time delivery options for the first time. Currently, deliveries can only take place during the day, when the market is open.
The money will also fund a study of the deliveries in and out of the Covered Market, including the time, frequency and quantity of delivers and the types of vehicles used. This will be used to better understand the steps needed to prepare traders for the Zero Emission Zone, and the mitigations for Covered Market traders needed within the final proposal.
The £192,500 of funding has come from DEFRA’s (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) Air Quality Grant 2017/18.
The new money is part of a wide range of Oxford City Council projects – worth £3.25m in total – to help businesses and residents prepare for the Zero Emission Zone, including securing:
- £500,000 of Government funding to install 19 electric vehicle charging points for the exclusive use of hackney and private hire taxis
- £1.7m of Government funding to upgrade five sightseeing buses to be fully electric, and 78 local buses to become ultra-low emission
- £800,000 of Government funding to install 100 electric vehicle charging points for residents across Oxford as part of a “globally significant” research trial
Earlier this month (March), following a landmark legal ruling, the Government pledged “a more formal approach” to supporting the City Council in tackling Oxford’s illegal levels of air pollution. The City Council plans to use the new support, which is likely to include additional funding, to help introduce the Zero Emission Zone.
The Zero Emission Zone, which the City Council is jointly proposing with Oxfordshire County Council, would see pollution-emitting vehicles banned from Oxford city centre in phases.
The proposals would see a small number of emitting vehicle types banned from a small number of streets in 2020. As vehicle technology develops, the proposal would see all emitting vehicle types banned in the whole city centre in 2035.
Oxford City Council and Oxfordshire County Council are now meeting with those directly affected by the Zero Emission Zone proposals – including Covered Market traders, taxi owners and operators, bus companies, city centre business representatives, disability groups and University of Oxford colleges – to inform the next stage of proposals.
These proposals will be announced in the autumn. Residents and stakeholders will then be able to have their say on the new proposals as part of a public consultation.
The final Zero Emission Zone will be announced in 2019.
Its full implementation 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 (NO2) levels is expected by 2035.
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 City Council has announced £1.6m of investment in the Covered Market over the next four years. The money will see work to improve the interior of the market, repairs to the roof, improved public toilets, new external paving and, to enhance the visibility of the market, new signs.
Councillor Susan Brown, Leader of Oxford City Council, said: “We have been raising our concerns about Oxford city centre’s toxic and illegal levels of air pollution for some time. It is vital for the health of those who live, work and visit the city that we tackle this issue – and we are delighted to have secured funding from government to help us do so.
“We do not want the Zero Emission Zone to negatively affect businesses in the city centre, which is why we are working with Government to help local businesses, bus companies and taxi operators with the move to clean vehicles.
“We are working towards building a city centre that works for everyone – that has a wide variety of shops, good access for all and clean and safe air – so that visiting Oxford is a positive and healthy experience.”