Authorities plan zero emission zone for world famous 'city of dreaming spires'

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Oxford City Council has outlined a joint proposal with Oxfordshire County Council to introduce a zero emission zone in the city's center.

The city council said in an announcement Wednesday that the plans would result in "historic reductions in air pollution."

Home to the University of Oxford, the city's skyline of "dreaming spires" is famous worldwide.

The proposals would see emitting vehicles banned from the city center in stages. This would begin in 2020 with certain vehicle types, such as non-zero emission taxis, being banned from a "small number of streets." By 2035, all non-zero emission vehicles would be banned from the entire city center.

This, Oxford City Council said, would result in air pollution levels falling to "near-background levels." By 2035, nitrogen dioxide levels in the city center's most polluted street were expected to fall by 74 percent, the proposal said.

"Toxic and illegal air pollution in the city center is damaging the health of Oxford's residents," councillor John Tanner said in a statement.

"All of us who drive or use petrol or diesel vehicles through Oxford are contributing to the city's toxic air. Everyone needs to do their bit – from national Government and local authorities, to businesses and residents – to end this public health emergency."

The plans are subject to a six-week public consultation process, starting next Monday, with the final scheme set to be published in 2018.