A two-tier dispute has emerged over county council plans to introduce a zero emission zone in Oxford city centre, after the city council branded them ‘ridiculous’ and ‘undeliverable’.
In a transport plan for the county, Oxfordshire CC states ‘the ambition of the Oxford Transport Strategy (OTS) is to start a city centre zero-emission zone for all vehicles by 2020 with the zone being gradually expanded over time as the required infrastructure technology develops’.
The proposal follows the introduction of a low emission zone in Oxford, with operators having made ‘great efforts in delivering vehicles which met Euro V emission standards’ the county council said.
However city council cabinet member for climate change, Cllr John Tanner, said the highways authority’s plans would not work.
‘I am against the county council plan because it is not going to happen. It is impractical and undeliverable. There is no money to fund it and it would have a detrimental affect on business and residents.
‘We can't stop them as they are the highways authority but we think they will see sense. You could lower emissions by closing down the whole of Oxford but of course that would be ridiculous. It is not a case of us frustrating the county council’s plans. We have worked with them on the low emissions zone, which has helped reduce pollution levels and we still have some way to go.’
Cllr Tanner conceded that a ‘few streets’ in Oxford were over EU-permitted pollution levels, including St Aldate’s and St Clement’s, and suggested this was due to the high number of buses on these roads.
‘Elsewhere pollution levels are falling. There are only a few areas with high pollution levels and that is related to the high number of buses there. It makes sense to look at those vehicles that are causing the most pollution rather than insist all cars are zero emission.’
Cllr Tanner said he favoured an approach of ‘rapid incremental change’ bringing in new technology when and where possible as quickly as possible.
Oxfordshire CC was not available for comment at the time of writing.