The UK’s first zero emission zone (ZEZ) has been launched in Oxford aimed at reducing toxic air pollution in the city.

The pilot covers a small number of city centre streets where all petrol and diesel vehicles, including hybrids, will incur a daily charge unless eligible for an exemption, while zero emission vehicles, such as electric cars, can enter the area for free.

The charge will vary from £2 to £10 per day depending on the emission levels of the vehicle. Automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) cameras are being installed to enforce rules within the zone.

“This is a proud moment for our city,” said Councillor Duncan Enright, Oxfordshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Travel and Development Strategy.

“The first ZEZ scheme in the country is launching in Oxford. We are taking concrete actions to improve air quality in the city and to make it cleaner and safer.

“I want to thank all the residents and businesses who sent us their feedback on the pilot and worked with us to develop the scheme. Our vision is to create a zero-carbon transport network by 2040 and the ZEZ pilot is an important step towards achieving that vision.”

Many UK cities including London, Birmingham, Manchester, Bristol and Bath have already introduced or are in the process of introducing clean air zone restrictions and charges for vehicles, Oxford is the first city in Britain to introduce a ZEZ.