Oxford plans to start banning petrol and diesel cars from 2020

Four-stage ban to progressively remove existing cars from city streets

Car Industry News Car Ownership
Oxford High Street

Oxford city centre could be closed to all conventional petrol and diesel cars from 2020, under plans about to go out for public consultation.

Oxford City Council and Oxfordshire County Council intend to ban petrol and diesel cars from six key streets in Oxford city centre from 2020, with further bans from 2025 and 2030 before a complete ban for the entire city of Oxford by 2035.

The zero-emission zone proposals would be introduced as follows:

  • From 2020: Non-zero emission taxis, cars, light commercial vehicles and buses excluded from Queen Street, Cornmarket Street, New Inn Hall Street, Market Street, Ship Street and St Michael’s Street
  • From 2025: Non-zero emission taxis, cars, light commercial vehicles and buses excluded from roads including New Road, the southern part of Worcester Street, George Street, Magdalen Street, Magdalen Street East, Pembroke Street, Speedwell Street, Norfolk Street and Castle Street
  • From 2030: Non-zero emission taxis, cars, light commercial vehicles and buses excluded from all roads within Hollybush Row, Hythe Bridge Street, Worcester Street, Beaumont Street, St Giles’, part of Parks Road, South Parks Road, St Cross Road, Longwall Street, Merton Street, Blue Boar Street, St Aldate’s and Thames Street
  • From 2035: All non-zero-emission vehicles, including HGVs, excluded from within the above area

The proposal going out for public consultation is one of six options presented to the councils from a study by Ricardo Energy & Environment. Other options included a near-blanket introduction from 2020, but this was not considered practical.

Rolling out the country’s first ban on petrol and diesel cars

The government has already announced its plans for all conventional petrol and diesel new cars to be banned from 2040, meaning new vehicles would have to be hybrid or fully-electric. The Oxford plans would beat that date by five years, but it’s the earlier stages from 2020 to 2030 that are likely to cause the most difficulty.

Banning approximately 99% of all current vehicles from key central streets of Oxford in less than three years’ time will cause significant headaches for bus and taxi companies, let alone delivery companies and personal drivers. It is going to require significant investment to make sure there are enough buses and taxis to access these streets once the ban is implemented, not to mention sufficient charging infrastructure to support these vehicles.

The flip side of this is that the streets listed in the first phase of the ban are already restricted in terms of access and unloading, so the number of people affected may be less than it first appears. The hope will be that zero-emissions technology and infrastructure development will have advanced significantly by the second phase of the ban in 2025, when a number of busier streets will start to be impacted.

The councils have acknowledged that more funding will be required to implement these new measures. Even council vehicles, like bin lorries and gritters, will need to be replaced with hybrid or electric models.

Other schemes under consideration to support the zero-emission zone include reduced parking fees for electric vehicles, electric taxi-only ranks and electric delivery vehicle-only loading areas.

The full Zero Emission Zone Feasibility and Implementation Study is available on the Oxford City Council website, and the public consultation will be available from Monday 16 October.

Buses in Oxford city centre

By Motacilla (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Stuart Masson

Stuart is the Editor of The Car Expert, which he founded in 2011, and our new sister site The Van Expert. Originally from Australia, Stuart has had a passion for cars and the car industry for over thirty years. He spent a decade in automotive retail, and now works tirelessly to help car buyers by providing independent and impartial advice.

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