Oxford to become first UK city to ban petrol and diesel cars from center

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Bicycles parked in the centre of Oxford, Britain

By Costas Pitas

LONDON (Reuters) – The university city of Oxford has unveiled plans to ban petrol and diesel cars from its center as part of the most radical set of proposals so far in Britain to curb pollution.

Whilst London is rolling out an “ultra low emission zone”, which will see the most gas-guzzling vehicles pay daily charges to enter the city center from 2020, Oxford’s “Zero Emission Zone” will ban emitting vehicles from entering part of the city center from that date.

Since German carmaker Volkswagen <VOWG_p.DE> admitted in 2015 to cheating U.S. emissions tests, politicians around the world have unveiled plans to clamp down on diesel vehicles in a bid to improve air quality and meet more stringent targets.

“All of us who drive or use petrol or diesel vehicles through Oxford are contributing to the city’s toxic air,” said city council board member John Tanner.

“Everyone needs to do their bit – from national government and local authorities to businesses and residents – to end this public health emergency.”

Oxford will also introduce reduced parking fees for electric vehicles and electric-taxi ranks.

In the first stage of its plans from 2020, taxis, cars, light commercial vehicles and buses which are non zero-emission, will be banned from six streets in the city center, including near the world-famous Oxford Union debating society.

The zone will be gradually widened to include more streets and further vehicle types until 2035 when all emitting vehicles, including trucks, will be banned from the center.

Local politicians will draw up the final plans after a consultation closes on Nov. 26.

Britain has said it will ban the sale of all new diesel and petrol cars from 2040, replicating plans by France and the mayors of Paris, Madrid, Mexico City and Athens, who aim to ban diesel vehicles from their city centers by 2025.

(Editing by Stephen Addison)

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