Oxford residents have backed proposals to establish a ‘zero emission zone’ in Oxford city centre, but concerns have been raised over how the proposals could affect deliveries to businesses.
Plans for the introduction of a zero emission zone were outlined by Oxford city council and Oxfordshire council in October (see airqualitynews.com story).
The proposals would see diesel and petrol vehicles banned from Oxford city centre in phases, starting with some vehicle types and a small number of streets in 2020, potentially moving to all vehicle types across the whole city centre in 2035.
A six week consultation on the proposals gained more than 750 responses from local residents and businesses, with around a third (28%) describing the proposals as appropriate, while almost half (45%) called for the planned zero emission zone to cover a wider area.
The consultation has also highlighted a number of areas of concern from stakeholders, in particular from businesses and individuals directly impacted by the proposals, which will need to be considered in detail.
These areas include deliveries to and from businesses within the zone, access to the zone for disabled people, the introduction of electric buses within the suggested timescale, and infrastructure improvements that are needed to encourage alternative means of transport, such as cycling and walking.
The councils are now in the process of fully examining the responses, ahead of further consultation planned for the start of 2018.
Councillor John Tanner, Oxford city council executive board member for a clean and green Oxford, said: “I’m thrilled that most people are backing the proposal for a Zero Emission Zone in Oxford city centre.
“The reason for carrying out the consultation was to understand, in detail, what people’s needs are, so we can minimise the impact of the Zero Emission Zone on business and residents while maximising the impact on the city’s health. I am thankful that so many took time out of their busy schedules to take part.
“We have received more than 130,000 words in response to the online consultation alone, and we now need to go through this in detail. We must now work urgently to finalise the proposals to make sure they work for everyone and deliver a solution to the toxic and illegal levels of air pollution in Oxford city centre.”
Councillor Yvonne Constance, Oxfordshire county council’s cabinet member for environment, added: “It is fantastic that so many individuals and businesses took the time to consider the Zero Emission Zone proposals for Oxford and that mostly are supportive of its ambitions.
“This is an exciting time for Oxfordshire county council to be leading the way with the city council on reducing pollution but now the hard work begins to see how we can implement the zone whilst allowing Oxford to thrive economically and remain a wonderful place for its residents to live. We are working with stakeholders, innovators and funding bodies to explore how we can use technology and new infrastructure to enable the ZEZ transition.”