Plans to introduce a Zero Emission Zone (ZEZ) in Oxford have been postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The new scheme was due to begin in December 2020 but Oxford City Council and Oxfordshire County Council said local businesses and residents needed to concentrate on managing the impact of the coronavirus.

They also admitted they would be unable to devote enough time to the scheme at the present time.

The ZEZ covers a section of Oxford city centre and will see all non-compliant vehicles face a £10 charge to enter the zone between 7am and 7pm.

This figure will rise to £20 from August 2025.

Exemptions have been granted for businesses registered in the zone until July 2025, followed by a discount until July 2030.

Residents living inside the zone will be able to apply for a 90% discount until July 2030.

"We are all living through an unprecedented crisis," said councilor Tom Hayes, cabinet member for Zero Carbon Oxford, Oxford City Council. "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 prioritise helping to shape the policy or focusing on the logistical planning required for these schemes.

"I would like to thank everyone who has contributed to our consultations over the past few months and spent many hours shaping the future of our city.

"I know many people will share our deep disappointment. I am very hopeful that we will resume the timeline for the Oxford Zero Emission Zone and Connecting Oxford. I hope everyone stays safe during this time and we wish our businesses and citizens well."