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Oxford prepares to launch zero emission zone in December

Local authorities in Oxford have unveiled draft proposals as they prepare to launch the UK’s first zero emission zone later this year.

Oxford City Council and Oxfordshire County Council are proposing two zones which will levy charges on petrol and diesel vehicles.

The initial “red zone”, expected to be introduced in December 2020, will cover a smaller part of the city centre. The council has also proposed a “green zone”, expected in 2021 or 2022, which will cover the rest of the city centre and include discounts for vehicles that comply with the London ultra low emission zone emissions standards.

The charges are currently set at £10 for both heavy goods and light commercial vehicles but will double to £20 from 2024.

The authorities said the move aimed to tackle both toxic air pollution in the form of nitrogen dioxide and cut emissions.

Councillor Yvonne Constance, Cabinet Member for Environment, Oxfordshire County Council, said: “I am really pleased that at the start of the New Year we are on track to introduce the Zero Emission Zone in Oxford by the end of 2020.

“Not only will this project make a huge difference to the quality of life and health of people living and working in the city centre, we are showing that it is possible as we start to respond seriously to the climate emergency. This is a great way to start an important decade of climate action.”

The zero emission zone is a first for the UK, although other cities have introduced low emission zones, including London, Edinburgh, Birmingham, Manchester and Liverpool.

London introduced its ultra low emission zone in April, followed by a raft of measures to support electric vehicles in June.

Fleet operators in urban areas are facing a backlash against emissions. Ocado has faced opposition from residents and local MP Jeremy Corbyn over its plans to introduce a new distribution centre in Islington.