City centre zero emission zone

A ZEZ pilot launched in a small area of Oxford’s city centre in February 2022.

A zero-emission zone (ZEZ) is an area where vehicles that are fully zero-emission can be driven free of charge. Other vehicles that rely on fossil fuels need to pay a charge for driving in the area. Funds raised by the ZEZ will be used to support the transition to zero-emission transport in the city.

Pilot

ZEZ pilot launched in a small area of Oxford’s city centre on 28 February. The pilot will allow councils to gain useful insights before introducing a larger ZEZ covering most of Oxford city centre next year, subject to further public consultation.

Reasons

Vehicle emissions are one of Oxford's most significant causes of air pollution. They are harmful to our health and contribute to climate change.

A zero-emission zone will:

  • encourage people to switch to low and zero-emission vehicles
  • make other positive changes to their travel behaviour
  • generate funding to support the transition to zero-emission vehicles.

This will improve the air quality in Oxford and reduce traffic while still maintaining access for those who need it.

How does it work?

Traffic signs identify the location of the zone. The scheme is enforced using automatic number plate recognition cameras.

Charges are payable by all vehicles unless they emit zero emissions or have a 100 per cent discount or exemption. Income from the scheme will be used to pay for its development and operation as well as to improve transport in the city, including schemes to support the transition to zero-emission transport.

Zero-emission zone

Map of the zero emission zone.

Frequently asked questions

How are people who cannot afford or do not have zero-emission vehicles expected to travel in the city centre when the ZEZ is expanded?

Oxford has exceptionally high bus and cycle use across the city already, especially in the city centre. Only 34% of Oxford residents travel to work by car. In the city centre this is even lower (Census, 2011).

There is a number of ways people may adapt to the ZEZ and buying a zero-emission vehicle is not the only option.  For example, people may choose to walk, cycle or use public transport for more of their journeys.

An assessment of the scheme’s impacts will include understanding the effects of the scheme on different groups of people with protected characteristics under the Equality Act, as well as other groups identified as having the potential to be impacted.

How will you use learning from the ZEZ pilot? 

One of the main reasons for introducing the ZEZ in just a few streets in the heart of the city centre is to allow it to be tested and provide learnings for the implementation of a wider zone in the future. We encourage feedback from anyone who has experience of the ZEZ pilot, as this will be used to develop our plans for the scheme’s expansion across most of the city centre.