OXFORD has won a battle with central government to get more funding to create a Zero-Emissions Zone in the city centre.

The city council has landed a place on a list of cities across the UK which will get cash to tackle air pollution.

Councillors have said they will use the money to help create hundreds of electric vehicle charging points to help motorists ditch petrol and diesel engines.

The Government made the announcement after losing a third legal battle over air quality at the end of February, and after Oxford councillors wrote to ask the Government for more help to tackle air pollution last year.

Oxford Mail: John Tanner. Picture by Ed Nix

Plugging away: Oxford city councillor John Tanner with an electric car charging points. Picture: Ed Nix

Oxford City Council board member for environment, John Tanner, said: “Oxford City Council has been taking the leading role on tackling Oxford’s air pollution for years, but toxic pollutants are still at illegal levels in some parts of the city centre.

“We are pleased that the Government has finally woken up to the public health crisis that is taking place in Oxford, and we look forward to working much more closely with them going forward.

“We hope that this decision means the Government will provide us with funding to enable the world’s first Zero Emission Zone to happen – and to go even further in restricting high-emitting vehicles from the city, installing electric vehicle charging points and, ultimately, cleaning up Oxford’s air.”

The latest High Court ruling against the Government is the third case brought by environmental legal campaigners from ClientEarth.

The group brought its first case in 2015, when the Supreme Court ordered the Government to make better plans for tackling the UK’s air pollution problem, which had been breaching EU limits for years and is linked to thousands of premature deaths each year.

In July the Government published its re-written draft Air Quality Action Plan, the centrepiece of which was a promise to ban sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2040.

However critics, including some on Oxford City Council, slammed the plan because it did not include any new legislation for clean-air zones or a ‘scrappage scheme’ to help motorists with the cost of swapping petrol and diesel vehicles for electric ones.

Many said it passed the buck to local authorities to deal with the problem without giving them extra help.

Oxford City Council, which has long aspired to tackle air pollution locally, said the plan would not give it any extra powers.

ClientEarth took that plan back to court, but in the meantime the city council announced its own plans to create what it called the world’s first Zero-Emissions Zone by 2035.

This would see petrol and diesel cars banned from an increasing number of central streets from 2020.

Now the Government has said it will help.

The government has not yet said how much funding will be available, but said: “We will be making immediate mobilisation of funding to help the development of these local feasibility studies. We will also provide funding to support measures identified that would bring forward compliance.”