Oxford Plans to Ban Diesel and Petrol Vehicles from 2020
New proposals could mean that Oxford is set to become the first place in the UK to ban all diesel and petrol vehicles from driving within its city centre.
If approved, the proposals would mean that all petrol and diesel cars, buses and taxis will be barred from driving in six city centre streets from 2020.
This area would then be expanded at 5 year intervals, and in 2030 would be set to encompass the entire city centre. Finally, in 2035 HGVs would be banned from driving within the area, making Oxford’s City Centre what it is thought would be the world’s first Zero Emissions Zone.
The proposal will first need to be approved by Oxford City Council, with a six-week public consultation underway throughout October and November. The councils’ environment chief John Tanner commented that the proposals were “urgently needed”, and that air pollution in the city is damaging the health of its residents.
Environmental health experts say that introducing the scheme could reduce nitrogen dioxide levels to near-background levels, with one city centre street potentially seeing a 74% reduction in the level harmful emissions.
Whilst the scheme does have clear public health and environmental benefits, if approved it won’t come without a cost, and it’s estimated that local councils and businesses could end up paying around £14m over the rollout period.
This includes the Oxford Bus Company, Stagecoach, taxi firms, Oxford City Council and Oxfordshire County Council, who will need to fork out around £7m in order to replace petrol and diesel vehicles with electric or hybrids.
In addition, both councils will need to spend a further £7m to ensure they have the appropriate resources to enforce the ban, including a new CCTV system with automatic number plate recognition.
However, as the zones are expected to be gradually expanded, the two councils expect to be able to backload the majority of the cost to the second half of the 18 year rollout period, allowing them time to properly budget. Oxford City Council also said that the zone would “need to be supported with further funding” from the government, with bids expected to take place in the near future.