Oxford to enforce full non-electric ban by 2035

Oxford to enforce full non-electric ban by 2035
Parts of Oxford city centre will impose a ban on all non-electric vehicles as soon as 2020 – as details of the world’s first Zero Emissions Zone were unveiled.

The historic city looks set to lead the way in the battle against air pollution by making its entire centre petrol and diesel-free by 2035, with estimate fines of £60 for illegal use of the zone.

Despite coming at an estimated spread cost of at least £14 million, councils chiefs say the move is “urgently needed,” as cities across the country consider measures to reduce levels of harmful nitrogen dioxide (NO2).

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In under three years’ time, all petrol and diesel cars, taxis and buses will be banned from six key Oxford streets, including major thoroughfare Queen Street.

Further expansion of the scheme would then kick in by 2025, before the next phase in 2030, by which point the entire city – including George Street, St Aldate’s and most of High Street – will have excluded offending vehicles.

In 2035, the final phase of the plan kicks in when HGVs are banned from the zone.

While the scheme is billed to cost councils, bus operators, taxi firms and haulage companies millions of pounds, Oxford City Council’s environment chief says it would reduce NO2 levels in the worst affected areas by up to 74%.

Meanwhile, manufacturers continue their push towards spurring electric vehicle uptake. Last week a new scheme was unveiled by Nissan and Ovo, which will allow electric car owners to effectively drive for free, letting out use of their chargeable battery back to the supplier.

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The next step in Oxfordshire is for councils to launch a six-week consultation, in a bid to collect views from “everyone who uses the city centre” on the implementation timeline and affected roads. This will be published in 2018.

Oxford City Council cabinet member for environment John Tanner said: “Toxic and illegal air pollution in the city centre is damaging the health of Oxford’s residents. A step change is urgently needed; the Zero Emission Zone is that step change.

“All of us who drive or use petrol or diesel vehicles through Oxford are contributing to the city’s toxic air. Everyone needs to do their bit – from national Government and local authorities, to businesses and residents – to end this public health emergency.

“I would urge everyone who uses Oxford city centre to take part in the consultation.”

RAC roads policy spokesman Nicholas Lyes said: “Oxford appears to be considering a very radical approach to tackling its air quality problem.

"The council would be better placed to first identify those vehicles that are most responsible for creating city pollution rather than simply implementing an outright ban on all non-zero emission vehicles from certain streets.

"This will also mean that local residents who have invested in cleaner hybrid vehicles will now be targeted which seems both unfair and an unwelcome disincentive as the use of these vehicles should be being encouraged.

“At present, only 2% of drivers surveyed by the RAC expect to purchase a pure electric car as their next vehicle.

"Concerns about a lack of charging infrastructure and higher upfront costs for pure electric vehicles continue to be barriers to take-up, though manufacturers are investing heavily in producing more zero-emission vehicles than ever.

“There is little doubt that air pollution in our towns and cities must be reduced, but this should be done in a way that is fair to drivers, and targets the most polluting vehicles first.”

Copyright Press Association 2017. Motoring News articles do not reflect the RAC's views unless clearly stated.