Oxford to ban polluting cars in 'world's first' zero emissions zone

GETTYThe initiative will cost Oxford city Council bus and taxi firms an estimated £14 million

Oxfordshire county council councillor Yvonne Constance said: "We want to hear from everyone who uses the city centre, including businesses, bus and taxi firms and local residents, so that we get the fullest possible picture".

In the first stage of its plans from 2020, taxis, cars, light commercial vehicles and buses which are non-zero emission, will be banned from six streets in the city centre, including near the world-famous Oxford Union debating society.

According to the city council, Oxford city centre now has illegal levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2), a leading cause of diseases such as cancer and heart disease. A move to ban all non-EVs across the city will follow in 2035, five years before the Government plans to ban sales of new petrol and diesel vehicles nationwide. Between 2011 and 2013, average NO2 levels across the city centre fell by 18.9%; but between 2014 and 2016 they fell by just 3.9%.

"The council would be better placed to first identify those vehicles that are most responsible for creating city pollution rather than simply implementing an outright ban on all non-zero-emissions vehicles from certain streets".

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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. Further funding was requested in June to progress the ZEZ proposal.

Oxford city centre now has illegally high levels of toxic nitrogen dioxide (NO2), which contributes to diseases and contributes to around 40,000 deaths in the United Kingdom every year. "Everyone needs to do their bit - from national Government and local authorities, to businesses and residents - to end this public health emergency", Tanner added.

"The County and City together are proposing a staged Zero Emission Zone from 2020 in the city centre, with additional measures to bring down chronic pollution in St Clement's Street, High Street and St Aldate's".

Oxford isn't the only European city to step up its "clean air" policy game, however. Tell us what you think in the comments area below!

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