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UK zero-emission and clean-air zones suspended due to COVID-19 outbreak

Transport for London (TFL) this week suspended charges for its Ultra Low Emission Zone. London Mayor Sadiq Khan asked TFL to make these changes to allow key workers, including the National Health Service staff and those delivering medicine and groceries, to get around “as easily as possible.”

Khan added:

This is not an invitation to take to your cars. People should not be traveling, by any means, unless they really have to.

MG Motor UK and its dealer network are supplying up to 100 electric MG ZS cars to National Health Service agencies across the UK. The EVs will be provided free-of-charge for up to six months to support the national effort to overcome the coronavirus.

Meanwhile, plans to introduce a Zero Emission Zone in Oxford were postponed last week due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The plan was scheduled to begin in December 2020. However, city and county officials said local businesses and residents needed to concentrate on managing the impact of the coronavirus.


100 electric MG ZS cars will be used by the National Health Service

Motorists driving an emission-producing vehicle would have been charged a fee of £10 ($12) to enter the zone covering a section of Oxford’s city center between 7 am and 7 pm. The fee would double in 2025. Residents living inside the zone will get a 90% discount until July 2030. Funding was also secured to buy automatic number plate recognition technology to catch drivers disobeying the rules of the Oxford zero-emission zone.

Tom Hayes, a cabinet member for Zero Carbon Oxford, expressed disappointment about the delayed timeline. He said:

We are all living through an unprecedented crisis. We have to get our priorities right at this time, and that means focusing on the immediate concerns of businesses who are key to the success of the Zero Emission Zone and Connecting Oxford.

We can’t expect businesses who are facing coronavirus challenges right now and potentially for months ahead to prioritize helping to shape the policy or focusing on the logistical planning required for these schemes.

Meanwhile, the Birmingham City Council also asked the UK Government for permission to postpone the launch of its Clean Air Zone. Waseem Zaffar, a Birmingham cabinet member for transport and environment, said:

Once we have addressed coronavirus in the immediate term, poor air quality will continue to be a significant issue in the long term, and we should not be complacent.

Bath, Leeds, and Greater Manchester also approved plans to introduce ULEZs, ZEZs, or other clean-air zones. UK100, which co-ordinates city-level action on clean air across the UK, said these three cities have not yet postponed their plans.

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Avatar for Bradley Berman Bradley Berman

Bradley writes about electric cars, autonomous vehicles, smart homes, and other tech that’s transforming society. He contributes to The New York Times, SAE International, Via magazine, Popular Mechanics, MIT Technology Review, and others.