Zero emission zone pilot cuts traffic and pollution

Oxford city centre is benefitting from reduced air pollution levels and fewer vehicle movements in the zero emission zone (ZEZ) pilot area. A county council report published today compares data from before and after the pilot project was introduced in a small area of the city in February 2022.

Oxfordshire County Council and Oxford City Council introduced the ZEZ pilot to improve air quality, cut carbon emissions and move towards zero emission travel in the city.

Insights from the pilot scheme are informing proposals now being developed for a larger ZEZ scheme in Oxford.

Cllr Judy Roberts, County Council Cabinet Member for Infrastructure and Development Strategy, said: “The zero emission zone pilot has had a positive impact in a small area of the city centre. We can apply our learning from the pilot when we now start to look at expanding that area in future and bringing the benefits of cleaner air and less traffic to more residents and businesses.”

 The report analysed data from 2019, 2021 and 2022 and found that:

  • Air pollution levels dropped overall in the ZEZ pilot area in 2022 (12 per cent on New Inn Hall Street, 14 per cent on Cornmarket Street and 18 per cent on St Michael’s Street, compared to an 8 per cent average reduction across Oxford the same year).
  • Overall vehicle movements in the ZEZ dropped by about 28 per cent during the operating hours of 7am to 7pm. Outside of the operating hours, vehicle movements reduced overall too.
  • There has been an overall shift towards the use of vehicles with less polluting engines and with lower CO2 emissions in the ZEZ.

Early 2023 data analysis suggests traffic movements in the ZEZ during its operating hours in 2023 were similar to the numbers recorded in the 2022. Air quality monitoring results for 2023 are not available yet, but will be published in due course.

The total income from the scheme over its first full financial year of operation was £702,940. The income will be used to pay for the ZEZ’s development and operation as well as to fund measures that support the transport objectives of the county and city councils.

The ZEZ pilot report is available to view at the county council’s website.

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