THE START date for a new scheme that would see polluting cars charged for entering the city centre has been revealed.

On February 28 2022, Oxfordshire County Council in partnership with Oxford City Council will launch Britain’s first-ever zero emissions zone (ZEZ).

This means that all polluting vehicles, such as petrol, diesel, and hybrid cars, will be charged for entering the city centre.

Only zero emission vehicles, like electric cars, will be able to enter the pilot zone for free.

The pilot scheme – which will cover Cornmarket Street, Queen Street, Bonn Square, New Inn Hall Street, St Michael’s Street, and Ship Street – will work in a similar way to the London congestion zone charge and the ultra-low emission zone.

If the scheme is approved after its trial period, however, it will be extended to a wider area of the city centre, including Oxpens Road, St Aldate’s, the High Street and St Giles.

The charge will vary from £2 a day to £10 a day opening on the emission levels of the vehicle.

To enforce the charges, automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) cameras are being installed to enforce the rules within the zone.

While many cities including London, Birmingham, Manchester, Bristol and Bath have already introduced or are in the process of introducing clean air zone restrictions and charges for vehicles, Oxford will be the first city in Britain to introduce a ZEZ.

Councillor Duncan Enright, who is the county council’s Cabinet Member for Travel and Development Strategy, said: “This is a proud moment for our city. The first ZEZ scheme in the country is launching in Oxford. We are taking concrete actions to improve air quality in the city and to make it cleaner and safer.

“I want to thank all the residents and businesses who sent us their feedback on the pilot and worked with us to develop the scheme. Our vision is to create a zero-carbon transport network by 2040 and the ZEZ pilot is an important step towards achieving that vision.

“We will learn from the pilot and in the coming months we will consult with local communities as we develop plans to expand the ZEZ across the city centre. We hope that residents, businesses and visitors will join us in our journey towards a carbon neutral future.”

Councillor Tom Hayes, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Green Transport and Zero Carbon Oxford, for the city council, added: “The launch of Britain’s first zero emission zone on 28 February would not have happened without many people’s enthusiasm, expertise, and time. Having worked personally with those people over the last four years of developing the ZEZ, I want to thank them because the ZEZ we’re launching reflects what they have said.

“The city council has chosen to set the toughest air quality standards of any local authority in the country. There is no safe level of air pollution. As the chair of the Zero Carbon Oxford Partnership we set up, the city council has helped to establish a data-led, science-based target of creating a net zero city by 2040.”