Why we need a Clean Air Zone

The Government set legal limits for pollution and we have to introduce a Clean Air Zone to ensure Oxford meets those limits within the shortest possible time. A major source of air pollution in cities is road traffic, particularly diesel engines.

Air pollution affects everyone in Oxford, especially:

  • children
  • older people
  • people with heart, breathing and underlying health conditions

Oxford’s Zero Emission Zone Pilot is set for approval, after further improvements were made following a final round of public consultation.

Oxford will then be one of the first places in the UK to introduce a Zero Emission Zone (ZEZ).

The ZEZ Pilot will restrict polluting vehicles from key city centre streets during the day. Those who drive polluting vehicles into the zone will be charged, with the level of daily charge dependent on how polluting the vehicle is.

The ZEZ Pilot is the first phase of the Zero Emission Zone. It will allow the County and Councils to gain useful experience and information before introducing a larger Zero Emission Zone covering most of Oxford city centre in 2022, subject to further public consultation.

It is intended that the restrictions and exemptions applied within the Pilot will be the same in the expanded ZEZ.

The scheme aims to reduce toxic air pollution levels, help tackle the climate emergency, and improve the health of residents, workers and visitors in Oxford and beyond.

Types of Clean Air Zones

There are 4 types of Clean Air Zones, Class A to D.

Class Vehicle type
A Buses, coaches, taxis, private hire vehicles
B Buses, coaches, taxis, private hire vehicles, heavy goods vehicles
C Buses, coaches, taxis, private hire vehicles, heavy goods vehicles, vans, minibuses
D Buses, coaches, taxis, private hire vehicles, heavy goods vehicles, vans, minibuses, cars, the local authority has the option to include motorcycles

The ZEZ will be implemented through a road user charging scheme.

This means vehicles used in the zone would be subject to charges, depending on their emissions.

  • Only 100% zero emission vehicles would be able to be used in the zone free of charge.
  • Other vehicles would be permitted in the zone but would be charged from £2 to £10 per day (rising to between £4 and £20 per day from August 2025) to drive in the zone between 7am and 7pm.
  • There would be discounts and exemptions for some road users, including disabled motorists, residents and businesses in the zone.