Britain’s first zero emissions zone (ZEZ) could pave the way for more cities to tackle air quality issues with similar projects.
Oxford is today (Feb 28) launching a pilot ZEZ scheme covering nine streets in the city centre with vehicles not qualifying as zero emission vehicles facing daily costs of up to £10.
The Oxfordshire County and Oxford City Councils’ initiative has been supported by global environment consultancy Ricardo, which provided an initial feasibility assessment to help define the practicalities of the scheme, outlining its air quality benefits and economic impacts.
Guy Hitchcock, Technical Director at Ricardo, said: “The effect of emissions from vehicles on public health is well documented. We have worked with various local authorities in helping them to find ways to reduce the negative impacts of air pollution. Oxfordshire County and Oxford City Councils’ have shown their ambition to move towards zero emission transportation by using our analysis for this pioneering scheme.”
In the UK, London has introduced its Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ), while Bath and Birmingham have active Clean Air Zones (CAZ). Air quality specialists from Ricardo have supported London in the assessment of its ULEZ and have been working with local authorities in Bradford, Southampton and Cardiff to complete CAZ feasibility studies.
With Ricardo’s support, Bradford secured £43m of Government funding to implement measures later this year that are expected to reduce pollutant concentrations in the city to below legislative levels and improve public health five years earlier than would be the case without the CAZ.
Dr Hitchcock said: “While Oxford is the first city to consider going beyond a CAZ with their ZEZ, other local authorities may choose to follow suit. Cutting emissions from vehicles reduces air pollution, helps tackle climate change and has obvious health benefits for society.
“With the Government ending the sale of petrol and diesel cars in 2030, the implementation of zones that charge drivers of vehicles with high emissions may persuade more motorists to switch to electric vehicles.”
In Oxford, Ricardo used its innovative RapidAir© model to generate pollutant concentration results, looking at the benefits of a ZEZ in terms of annual and hourly mean NO2 concentrations and in terms of population exposure.
Bryan Evans, Senior Transport Planner, Oxfordshire County Council, said: “Ricardo’s robust analysis helped the county council to develop the zero emission zone pilot and continues to inform our work on the wider zero emission zone proposed in Oxford city centre.”