Oxford to restrict car travel with ‘traffic filter’ trial to tackle 'climate change’
Oxford will be enforcing six “traffic filter” locations restricting car travel in 2024 as part of an effort to “help tackle climate change.”
During a trial run of at least six months, only buses, taxis, cyclists, pedestrians, and workers with special exemptions will be able to pass through the “filter” access points at all times without being fined, the Oxfordshire County Council and Oxford City Council explained.
Residents of Oxford and “some surrounding villages” can apply for a permit to drive through the filters for up to 100 days a year, and residents of Oxfordshire County may apply for a permit to pass through the filters up to 25 days a year.
Oxfordshire County has proposed a trial to “test” the filters and “allow people to comment on their impacts before making them permanent.”
Thus, city residents “may need to take a different route” to their desired destination when traveling by car.
The restrictions will be enforced using automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) cameras, which will monitor vehicles passing through the traffic filters, and those without an exemption or permit will be fined £70, according to the City Council.
The local councils maintain that residents “will still be able to drive to every part of the city at any time,” but the imposition of virtual “roadblocks” is disturbing to at least a few Britons, with one journalist describing the filters as “chilling.”
OxfordshireLive reported that objections during public debate over the measure were so heated that “proceedings had to be paused twice. One speaker who called for the councilors “to resign” was forced out of the room for speaking over her allotted time, the local news outlet reported.
Media coverage describing the traffic constraints as “climate lockdowns” sparked further backlash, prompting a County-City joint statement that attempted to allay concerns by assuring the public that the filters are not “physical barriers,” and that Oxford residents would “not be confined to their local area.”
The local officials have admitted, however, that concern over “damag[e]” to the environment is helping to drive the new measures, although they appear to downplay this motivation in their FAQ clarification on the matter.
“The reason we have proposed these changes is because – as everyone who lives and visits Oxford knows – the city has had awful congestion for decades. This is damaging both our economy and our environment, and is making the bus network unviable,” the statement explained.
Oxfordshire County’s webpage on traffic filters makes clear that the vehicle restrictions aim to “help tackle climate change” and “reduce local air pollution” as they encourage walking, cycling, and busing instead of car travel.
In fact, cutting back on car travel “through increases in cycling, walking, home-working, and car sharing” to help reach a goal of net-zero emissions by 2040 is an explicit goal of the Oxford City Council.
The filters will be installed on St Cross Road, Thames Street and Hythe Bridge Street in the city center, as well as on St Clements, Marston Ferry Road and Hollow Way. Opponents have argued that the filters favor residents of central city areas, which have better public transport access, and that the filters would simply divert traffic to other roads.
While councillors unanimously voted to approve the Central Oxfordshire Travel Plan, which aims to “reduc[e] 1 in 4 car trips by 2030,” not all supported the current traffic filters proposal.
Councillor Mark Lygo, the county’s cabinet member for public health and equality, voted against the measure, reportedly after “sleepless nights” over the issue. He cited in part the opposition of Oxford residents, remarking that some of them disagreed with the plan’s “actions” as well as “the data driving them.”
Zoe Strimpel observed, writing for The Telegraph, that the measures may “well stop many residents, including the elderly, from getting from A to B – but if B happens to be beyond your quadrant, the enforcement of a communitarian ‘inclusive’ and ‘sustainable’ vision must come first.”
“The introduction of ‘traffic filters’ is what you might expect in a totalitarian state, not Oxford,” Strimpel remarked.
Marc Morano, an author who specializes in debunking the false narratives of the “climate change” agenda and condemning its totalitarian impulses, has recently warned of coming “climate lockdowns” in which restrictions will be imposed on car and airplane travel and household energy use under the pretext of a “climate emergency,” as part of the global Great Reset.