The government announced plans to improve air quality in the UK in 2015, and one of the measures in these plans was to implement clean air zones. The measures are applicable in cities with the highest issues with air quality and will use restrictions to encourage the cleanest vehicles to travel and operate in the designated areas. Vehicles that do not meet the emission standards specified for the clean air zones will have to pay a fee to operate within the allocated spaces.
The action to improve air quality aims to reduce the risk to public health and improve the urban environment. By implementing these air quality measures, the government plans to support cities in their growth and transition to a low emission, sustainable economy. There are plans for some cities to go even further and have low emission zones or no emission zones, which will completely ban non-compliant vehicles from entering the specified areas.
What Are Clean air zones
Clean air zones are an area where measures are in place to tackle environmental impacts on air quality by controlling the operation of certain vehicles to reduce sources of pollution and public exposure to pollutants. They mainly target the most polluting vehicles to discourage them from entering the targeted area.
The zones don’t ban specific vehicles from entering, but any vehicle with an engine that doesn’t meet the emission standards will have to pay a daily charge to travel into these spaces. All part of the plan to deliver immediate action to tackle air quality and the amount of nitrogen dioxide and other particulates produced within the urban environment.
Split into two categories: non-charging clean air zones and charging clean air zones. Non-charging clean air zones are defined areas that are taking steps to improve air quality by encouraging the use of low-emission vehicles. Charging clean air zones are set areas where vehicle owners will need to pay a charge to move within or enter the zone if the vehicle does not meet the standards of that clean air zone. Automatic number plate recognition cameras monitor these areas.
The Clean air zones Locations & Charges
Cities with clean air zones in England are Newcastle Upon Tyne, York, Bradford, Birmingham, Norwich, Oxford, Bristol, Bath, London, Portsmouth, and Brighton with various others planning their implementation.
There are four types of clean air zones, class A to D, and they are as follows:
A: Buses, coaches, taxis, private hire vehicles
B: Class A + HGVs
C: Class A + Class B + large vans, minibuses, small vans
D: Class A + Class B + Class C + cars, the local authority has the option to include motorcycles
Each vehicle carries its own emission standard requirement, and you will be able to find the emission standard of your car by looking in the logbook from the manufacturer. To avoid the clean air zones charges, your vehicle must meet the minimum requirements, which are:
|Vehicle type||Emission standard|
|Buses and coaches||Euro VI|
|Vans||Euro 6 (diesel) or Euro 4 (petrol)|
|Cars||Euro 6 (diesel) or Euro 4 (petrol)|
|Motorcycles and mopeds||Euro 3|
Local authorities may also set their own standards for private hire vehicles and taxis, so you will always need to check before entering clean air zones in these types of vehicles. If your car, or business vehicles, meet these standards, you will be exempt from paying.
Charges for Birmingham in class D
HGV’s buses and coaches – £50 per day
Taxis and private hire vehicles – £8 per day
Standard passenger cars – £8 per day
A CAZ online portal allows you to check and pay the charges online. You can pay for multiple vehicles and set up an account using this portal if you are running a business.
All zones are in force seven days a week, 24 hours a day. There are some exemptions from the charges, and you can find out more about these by visiting the local authority website. It is advisable to check these before your visit to make sure you know about any possible charges you may need to pay.
If you need help to reduce your emissions and be exempt from paying clean air zone charges, there are resources to help you. You can contact the Office for Zero Emission Vehicles that offer grants to help you buy cleaner vehicles, or the clean air fund that supports individuals and businesses in reducing their emissions through various schemes. You can also contact your local authority, as they may help replace or upgrade your existing vehicles.