Oxford unveils plans for zero emission zone

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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.

Starting in 2020, six streets in Oxford's city center will be free of smaller gas-guzzling vehicles, including buses and taxis.

Oxford city council and Oxfordshire county council have announced plans to introduce what has been described as the world's first "Zero Emission Zone" in Oxford city centre.

It has been calculated that this would take air pollution levels in Oxford city centre down to near-background levels. 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. 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%.

As vehicle technology develops, the zero-emission zone would extend to all vehicle types across the whole city centre by 2035.

Experts who back the scheme say it could cut harmful nitrogen dioxide levels by as much as 74 percent in one street, the Telegraph reports. Further funding was requested in June to progress the ZEZ proposal.

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"All of us who drive or use petrol or diesel vehicles through Oxford are contributing to the city's toxic air", said city council board member John Tanner.

Since German carmaker Volkswagen admitted in 2015 to cheating U.S. emissions tests, politicians around the world have unveiled plans to clamp down on diesel vehicles in a bid to improve air quality and meet more stringent targets.

Oxford could be the first "zero emission zone" in the UK.

We await more details about Oxford's zero-emissions zone, which promises to set an earth-friendly example that could help trigger stricter "clean air" policies around the globe.

"We support the principle of a Zero Emission Zone in Oxford. Everyone needs to do their bit - from national Government and local authorities, to businesses and residents - to end this public health emergency".

Beginning next week, councils for both the city of Oxford and its county will begin a six-week comment period to gauge the public opinion. Tell us what you think in the comments area below!

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