Post sponsored by NewzEngine.com

Source: City of Oxford

The final consultation for the proposed Oxford Zero Emission Zone (ZEZ) Pilot will open from Friday 20 November until midnight on Sunday 17 January 2021.

Oxfordshire County Council and Oxford City Council are now asking for views from residents, businesses and visitors on a revised ZEZ Pilot proposal after a similar consultation was paused in March 2020 because of the pandemic.

The proposed 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.

The need to cut emissions is clear. In January 2020, a study from Centre for Cities found out that at least one in 17 deaths in Oxford is related to air pollution. Oxford City Council’s draft Air Quality Action Plan sets a local target of 30 by 25 – ie 30 µg/m3 across Oxford by 2025. In April 2014, a report issued by Public Health England showed that long term exposure to air pollution in Oxford could be responsible for six per cent of all deaths of people aged 25 and over.

The ZEZ pilot would be based on a road user charging scheme, which means vehicles used in the zone 7am – 7pm would be subject to charges, depending on their emissions. Only 100 per cent zero emission vehicles could be used in the zone free of charge.

Other vehicles would be subject to the daily charges with the amount depending on the emissions of the vehicle. Discounts are also proposed for certain vehicles or road users during the charging hours (7am – 7pm) including resident and business vehicles within the zone, and for Blue Badge holders.

Under the requirement of the scheme, income raised by the ZEZ may be used to cover implementation and running costs. 

The remaining income will be used to help residents and businesses make the transition to zero emission vehicles, and on other schemes that promote zero and low emission transport in the city.

The consultation follows the government’s announcement this week that the sale of petrol and diesel cars will be banned from 2030. Britain is moving closer towards adopting electric vehicles on a wider scale.

The ZEZ will go beyond this ambition, with the ZEZ pilot to be introduced in Summer 2021, and on a wider scale in spring 2022.

[Image of ZEZ Pilot zone map 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]

In addition, Oxford also has an expression of interest in becoming Britain’s first All-Electric Bus Town with the Department for Transport. Both councils will be working with the Department to develop a business case for this scheme.

The councils are now proposing to create a single city centre ZEZ with a single set of requirements, in two steps. Firstly, an area in the heart of the city centre will act as the ZEZ pilot, which will then, secondly, provide learnings for a wider ZEZ to cover the whole city centre in spring 2022, on an accelerated timeline.

The larger ZEZ will be subject to further consultation but its alignment with the pilot zone would allow for clearer emissions criteria and greater support for residents and businesses within the ZEZ area.

The councils have made several changes to the ZEZ proposals after reflecting on the feedback from the January 2020 ZEZ consultation, the experience of COVID-19, the spring lockdown and the feedback from the temporary bus gates survey in the summer. These include:

  • Red Zone now explicitly a Zero Emission Zone Pilot (ZEZ Pilot) for the wider ZEZ, with identical requirements and discounts in both phases – This will allow both councils to develop learnings on implementing the scheme before wider roll out and will allow the wider ZEZ to be accelerated, delivering further air quality benefits more quickly.
  • Charges across both the ZEZ pilot and wider city centre ZEZ would be linked to emissions and aligned with national standards – This will help encourage the adoption of low emission and zero emission vehicles, as well as simplifying the requirements for residents and businesses in the ZEZ pilot.
  • ZEZ pilot to start Summer 2021 and wider ZEZ to be introduced in Spring 2022.
  • Blue badge holder discount extended – This will be extended to include international equivalents.
  • Review discount for Blue Badge Holders and disabled tax class vehicles by the end of 2024 – This will consider whether this discount should continue, reduce or stop from 2025 and to address concerns raised about the impact on access for people with disabilities.
  • Review zero emission standard for large vans and lorries – This will address concerns about consistency with national guidance and in light of the Ultra-Low Emission Truck (ULET) standard.
  • Discounts for certain special vehicle categories – This will address concerns about the availability of alternative options and ensure consistency with national emissions standards including Clean Air Zones and London ULEZ. 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. In 2019, both councils consulted on their Connecting Oxford proposals to tackle congestion and improve public transport connections into and across Oxford.

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. In 2019, both councils consulted on their Connecting Oxford proposals to tackle congestion and improve public transport connections into and across Oxford.

The proposed charges that would apply in the ZEZ pilot are:

Charges would apply to all vehicle classes, from mopeds to HGVs.  Discounts proposed for some vehicles 

DAILY CHARGE 

(applies 7am – 7pm) 

BAND 

EMISSIONS 

August 2021 to 31 July 2025 

August 2025 onwards 

ZEV 

Zero Emission Vehicle 

0 g/km CO2 

£0 

£0 

ULEV 

Ultra-Low Emission Vehicle 

Emits less than 75 g/km CO2 

National ULET standard will be adopted for HGVs when defined 

£2 

£4 

CAZ 

Clean Air Zone compliant vehicle 

Euro 4 petrol  

Euro 6 diesel 

£4 

£8 

Others 

Any vehicle not meeting any of above standards 

£10 

£20 

Discounts are proposed for residents’ and businesses’ vehicles, Blue Badge holders, and others. 

Type 

Discount 

ZEZ residents’ vehicles 

90% discount until August 2030, no discount thereafter 

Vehicle registered to and operating from businesses in the ZEZ 

90% discount until August 2025, no discount thereafter 

Blue Badge holders (or international equivalent) and Disabled Tax Class vehicles 

100% discount until August 2025 

Discount thereafter to be decided by the end of December 2024 

Permanent discounts will also be available for Hackney carriages licensed by Oxford City Council, local bus services, emergency service vehicles, historic tax class vehicles, community transport vehicles, recovery vehicles and more.

Buses and Oxford licensed Hackney Carriages that drive within the planned ZEZ also have already agreed timelines for zero emissions fleets across Oxford. 

Alongside the ZEZ, both councils are introducing supportive measures, to encourage the adoption of electric vehicles amongst residents and businesses both within the ZEZ pilot and across the city. The measures include:

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

Anyone can take part in the consultation by visiting Oxfordshire County Council’s website.

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