Plans to start the UK’s first city centre Zero Emission Zone (ZEZ) in Oxford at the end of the year have been postponed in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
The scheme – believed to mark the world’s first Zero Emission Zone – would have seen a phased-in introduction of two zones from December 2020 for all vehicles, covering a small area of the city centre initially in the Red Zone and followed by the rest of the city centre in the Green Zone in 2021/22, backed up charges on non-compliant vehicles.
However, Oxfordshire County Council and Oxford City Council have said that the scheme will now be postponed, with a view to implementing it in the summer of 2021.
They added: “Amid the current situation with coronavirus with government acknowledging an economic crisis, both councils recognise that businesses and residents across the city, including those in the Red Zone, need to focus all of their attention on managing the current and potential impacts on their trade and way of life. The councils have therefore decided that during this period of uncertainty, businesses should not be expected to devote time to the detailed logistical planning required for the Oxford ZEZ.”
The current formal consultation on the Red Zone is being closed and resumed in late 2020 but responses submitted so far will be read and saved.
The councils added that they remain wholly committed to the introduction of the proposed Zero Emission Zone in the city centre and have this month secured £150,000 funding from Defra to purchase Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) technology to assist in the delivery of the Oxford ZEZ.