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13 October 2017, 10:09 | Joann Bryant
GETTYAnyone caught filling the city with pollution will be handed an estimated £60 fine
"All of us who drive or use petrol or diesel vehicles through Oxford are contributing to the city's toxic air".
The world-first proposal was created because, according to the city council, the Oxford city centre has illegal levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) in the air. Over 40,000 deaths a year in the United Kingdom are caused by air pollution according to a 2016 report by the Royal College of Physicians and Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health. In 2015, the council says levels were at 152.5 per cent of the legal maximum for NO2. Further funding was requested in June to progress the ZEZ proposal.
Councillor John Tanner, Oxford City Council executive board member for a clean and green Oxford, said: "A step change is urgently needed; the zero emission zone is that step change".
As vehicle technology develops, the zero-emission zone would extend to all vehicle types across the whole city centre by 2035. The next phase of the plan will involve a more comprehensive ban, which will usher in the zero-emissions zone in its entirety.
Oxford isn't the only European city to step up its "clean air" policy game, however.
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 area would be extended to cover more roads in 2025 and 2030, with the entire city centre being completely free of non-zero-emission vehicles - including HGVs - by 2035. Tell us what you think in the comments area below! Green Transport Spokesperson Cllr Dick Wolff said in an emailed statement: "Planning for better air quality in 2020 and 2025 is all very well but it is hard to take such proposals seriously when the Council is taking decisions NOW which are significantly worsening air quality".
"I would urge everyone who uses Oxford city centre to take part in the consultation". We know that there will be a wide variety of views and we want to hear them all. The 150-mile range Metrodecker EV is being piloted as part of local bus operator First Leeds's commitment to invest £71m in 284 new ultra-low emissions buses for the city.
"We support the principle of a Zero Emission Zone in Oxford".
Oxfordshire County Council is also exploring demand management options for Oxford including a potential congestion charge and workplace parking levy.
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