30 June 2021
In the past 10 years, many urban local authorities have been looking to implement Clean Air Zones (CAZ), but the onset of Covid-19 has radically altered many of their plans.
In 2020, many launches were put on hold, and subsequently, further changes have been made.
Following on from our previous article, we look at the current state of play for Clean Air Zones in UK cities.
Birmingham: now live
Birmingham’s Class D Clean Air Zone went live on Tuesday, 1 June 2021. It covers all roads within the A4540 Middleway Ring Road, and owners of non-compliant cars, taxis and vans pay £8 per day to drive into the zone, while HGVs, coaches and buses will be charged £50 per day.
However, there was some confusion during the launch when at the outset, Birmingham City Council announced a two-week postponement to payments after concerns were raised about a lack of knowledge and understanding about the charges.
Bath: now live
Bath has introduced a Class C Clean Air Zone, which means that charges will not apply to private cars and motorbikes, even if they are used for work. Full electric vehicles and all hybrid vehicles are compliant.
Euro 1 to V diesel and Euro 1 to 3 petrol HGVs will incur a £100 daily charge, while Euro 1-5/V diesel and Euro 1 to 3 petrol vans will need to pay £9.
London: a widened zone in October
From 25 October 2021, London’s Ultra Low Emission Zone will expand to include all areas from central London up to, but not including, the North Circular Road (A406) and South Circular Road (A205), alongside the introduction of a Low Emission Zone (LEZ) that covers Greater London within the M25.
HGVs, vans and other specialist vehicles over 3.5 tonnes, as well as buses, minibuses and coaches over 5 tonnes that meet Euro VI standards, already in operation in the ULEZ, do not have to pay an additional charge. The Euro VI LEZ emissions standard is a London-wide requirement.
Drivers of cars, motorcycles and vans (below 3.5 tonnes) that don’t meet standards must pay £12.50 to enter the zone, while for non-compliant heavier vehicles, the charge is £100.
Penalty charges for non-payment, unregistered non-compliant vehicles, incorrect data entry of vehicle details and slow payment begin at £160 and rise to £1,000.
Bristol: launches in October 2021
Bristol City Council has confirmed it will launch a Class D Clean Air Zone in central Bristol in October this year, charging more polluting commercial vehicles and private cars to enter.
Non-compliant petrol and diesel cars and vans will pay £9, and HGVs £100. Petrol vehicles newer than 2005 and diesel vehicles newer than 2014 are mostly exempt from the charges, and individuals earning less than £24,000 a year can apply for a one-year exemption.
Manchester: delayed until 2022
The Clean Air Zone in Greater Manchester will now launch in 2022, with a final plans submitted by the local authority this summer.
Currently plans include a daily charge of £60 for HGVs, buses and coaches, and £7.50 for taxis and private-hire vehicles, from spring 2022. Vans and minibuses will be charged £10 daily from 2023.
The Clean Air Zone in Leeds, which was to have started in January 2020, has now been cancelled due to improvements in air quality.
Oxford: pilot goes live in August 2021
Oxford is launching a Zero Emission Zone (ZEZ) pilot in August. Zero-emission vehicles, such as fully electric and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles as well as some plug-in hybrids capable of zero-emission driving, will be allowed free entry.
Other vehicles would be allowed into the zone but will be charged from £2 to £10 per day (rising to between £4 and £20 per day from August 2025) between 7am and 7pm, depending on emissions.
Portsmouth: launches in November
The Portsmouth CAZ will go live in November. A Class B zone, buses, coaches, taxis, private hire vehicles and HGVs that don’t meet Euro 6 emissions standards (if diesel) or Euro 4 emissions standards (if petrol), will be charged between £10 and £50 per day.
Classes of CAZs
There are four classes of Clean Air Zone and local authorities must choose which best applies to help improve their local air quality. They are:
- Class A - Buses, coaches, taxis and private hire vehicles
- Class B - Buses, coaches, taxis, PHVs and heavy goods vehicles (HGVs)
- Class C - Buses, coaches, taxis, PHVs, HGVs and light goods vehicles (LGVs)
- Class D - Buses, coaches, taxis, PHVs, HGVs LGVs and cars
There are a number of other, non-charging, Clean Air Zone schemes in the planning stage including:
- St Albans
- Canterbury, Cardiff, Exeter and Nottingham councils state they will not be implementing a CAZ.