Oxford plans to ban petrol and diesel cars from 2020


It'll be the first city in the United Kingdom to introduce such a ban, going further than London's Congestion Charge and upcoming T-Charge for high-polluting diesel cars.

Every five years after that, the proposal suggests widening the size of the area where gas and diesel vehicles are banned.

The plan would therefore drop air pollution levels in the Oxford city center down to near-background levels: For example, George Street, which is Oxford City's most polluted street, would experience a 74% reduction in nitrogen dioxide levels by 2035.

The plans will be put out for public consultation on Monday 16 October, a process that will last six weeks seeking views on the speed of the implementation, vehicles types and roads affected. The 2020 ruling would see all petrol and diesel cars, taxis, light commercial vehicles and buses banned from a small area of downtown.

None of this is to say that Oxford's intention to create a zero-emissions zone isn't well-intentioned.

However, Oxford's plans are essentially a done deal since the United Kingdom intends to ban fossil fuel-powered vehicles from sale by 2040. The City Council is looking for funding for more battery charging infrastructure. A step change is urgently needed; the new Zero Emission Zone is that step change. "We know that the future is electric vehicles with no tailpipe emissions; this is the beginning of a revolution in bus travel".

But if Oxford's zone doesn't have a tangible impact on the city's deadly air pollution levels until at 2025, then it'll be more sham than saviour. "Everyone needs to do their bit, from the 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.

Does the Zero Emissions Zone make sense for Oxford city centre?

The modelling underpinning the zero emission zone proposals comes from a new study, which was commissioned jointly by Oxford City Council and Oxfordshire County Council, and was carried out by Ricardo Energy & Environment. The surprise news came after Sadiq Khan announced that London will have the world's first Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) in 2019 - a year ahead of schedule.

Leeds City Council Councillor Richard Lewis heralded the move as the start of a "revolution in bus travel".