Oxford set to ban vehicles entirely from city centre 0

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Oxford is set to ban polluting vehicles from its city centre in what officials believe would be the world’s first zero-emissions zone.

Air pollution has risen above legal limits in some areas of the historic university city and Oxfordshire County Council have taken steps to combat the growing problem.

Under the plans, which have now been released for public consultation, the ban would gradually rolled out in stages. Starting in 2020, non-zero emissions taxis, cars, light commercial vehicles and buses would be banned from a small number of streets.

With the development of vehicle technology, the zone would gradually be extended to include all vehicle types, including HGVs, and would eventually cover the entire city centre.

Under the ban, council chiefs believe air pollution levels would fall by as much as 75%.

Oxford’s green ambitions are already underway, earlier this year the city won £500,000 of government funding to install charging points for electric taxis, plus a further £800,000 to install similar systems for residents across the suburbs.

Other initiatives being considered include reduced parking fees for electric vehicles, electric taxi-only ranks and electric delivery vehicle-only loading areas. Councillor John Tanner of Oxford city council 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 emissions 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.”

Oxfordshire county council councillor Yvonne Constance said: “We want to hear from everyone who uses the city centre, including businesses, bus and taxi firms and local residents, so that we get the fullest possible picture.

“We know that there will be a wide variety of views and we want hear them all. Pragmatism will be an important part of anything we plan but we have set the ambition and now we would like to hear people’s views on our proposals.”

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