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New 'zero emissions zone' in UK to charge all petrol and diesel cars from next month

Daily Express logo Daily Express 05/01/2022 Tim Bradley

Oxford city centre with no cars on roads © Getty Oxford city centre with no cars on roads

The first Zero emissions zone (ZEZ) will be launched in the UK in February as local councils continue the Government's push to ban petrol and diesel cars by 2030. It means anyone entering Oxford city centre that isn't driving an electric vehicle will be charged for doing so.

The scheme will be launched in two stages from next month and begins with the unveiling of a 'red zone' in the city which will see drivers of petrol and diesel cars hit with a charge.

A wider 'green zone' will follow later in the year.

Based on the workings of London's Ultra-low emissions zone (ULEZ) which allows cars that meet the standard for free, cars driving into Oxford will pay a discounted rate.

Only zero emission cars will be allowed to enter without charge, pushing locals toward buying electric.

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Oxford's ZLZ is an even stricter version of the unpopular Clean Air Zones (CAZ) being rolled out in cities across the UK.

The red zone will catch any drivers whose vehicles don't meet the emission standards between the hours of 7am and 7pm, automatically sending them a £10 fine.

Only taxi drivers, buses and emergency service vehicles will be exempt.

Even residents already living in the zone will have to pay, although at a discounted rate until 2025.

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The scheme will be enforced by automatic number plate recognition.

Councillor Tom Hayes, cabinet member for Zero Carbon Oxford at Oxford City Council said: "With our strengthened Zero Emission Zone and the introduction of hundreds of supporting charging points, our medieval city is leading the electric vehicle revolution.

"Our two councils have taken a fresh look at the big idea of charging commuters to drive polluting vehicles in and out of the city centre.

"And we're listening to Oxford's Citizens' Assembly on Climate Change by speeding up our journey to a city-wide Zero Emission Zone."

Map of Oxford city red zone © Oxfordshire council Map of Oxford city red zone

However there was controversy over the ZEZ last month when it was revealed the majority of Oxfordshire council's vehicles are diesel powered.

As much as 91 percent of the county council's fleet and 73 percent of the city council's fleet run on the fuel.

Although the authorities said they were looking to introduce greener alternatives, the figures mean only 17 percent of its 348 vehicles are electric and would meet the standards for the ZEZ.

Mr Hayes said that non-electric vehicles would only have been bought if the electric alternatives were 'prohibitively expensive.'

Clean air zones in the UK © Express Clean air zones in the UK

Recently Express.co.uk has reported on issues with CAZs, including drivers repeatedly being sent fines by cities they have never driven in.

A raft of new zones in cities across the UK will launch this year.

The measures aim to improve air quality in cities however many people are unhappy and this week a petition against the CAZ in Bolton had 15,000 signatures.

The Government has made clear it will ban the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2030.

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