Oxford to ban petrol and diesel cars from centre by 2020

General view of Turl Street in Oxford City Centre

New proposals from Oxford city council and Oxfordshire county council could see the city become the first in the UK to ban petrol and diesel cars from the centre. Oxford plans to create Britain's first "zero-emission zone" by 2020.

The area will initially encompass only a few streets in the centre, but will expand steadily outward with larger areas planned for 2025 and 2030. Rather than encouraging drivers to pay a fee, as in London, the city will completely ban all but pure-electric vehicles in a bid to halve nitrogen oxide emissions, which have risen above legal limits in certain areas of the city.

Oxford is the first council to introduce plans of this nature, though the council has said that the proposals are "contingent on technology being sufficiently developed to allow this to be practical".

Oxford has recently won £500,000 of Government funding to install charging points for electric taxis, as well as a further £800,000 for residential electric vehicle charging points, but the council says more will be needed to support the zero emissions zone.

It's not yet clear how local businesses will fare either, with predominantly diesel-powered delivery vehicles a vital lifeline for shops in the centre. Anyone driving a non-electric vehicle in the zone is likely to be fined £60.

A period of public consultation has been launched. 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.

"We know that there will be a wide variety of views and we want hear them all. Pragmatism will be an important part of anything we plan but we have set the ambition and now we would like to hear people's views on our proposals."

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