Clean Air Zones — what are they and where are they?
Understanding Clean Air Zones: Locations, Rules, and Vehicle Standards
In a bid to reduce harmful emissions caused by vehicles in major UK cities, Clean Air Zones have cropped up around the country. These Clean Air Zones can mean daily charges for drivers travelling within these areas if their vehicles do not meet the set emission standards, so it’s important to know how Clean Air Zones work, and what you could be paying if you travel in one.
What is a Clean Air Zone?
Usually in operation 24 hours a day, 7 days a week (with some exceptions), a Clean Air Zone is an area in which drivers of vehicles that aren’t compliant with the zone’s Euro emission standard are charged a daily fee.
In some areas, this applies to all vehicles from passenger cars and motorbikes upwards, whereas in others it will be limited to those bigger, more polluting vehicles, such as buses and HGVs.
A charge per day for every day that you travel within a Clean Air Zone applies for non-compliant vehicles, meaning things could get expensive if your vehicle doesn’t hit the mark environmentally.
What are the different kinds of Clean Air Zone?
There are different types of Clean Air Zones, categorised by class to target the vehicles that cause pollution in the area:
Buses, coaches, taxis, and private hire vehicles
Buses, coaches, taxis, private hire vehicles, and heavy goods vehicles
Buses, coaches, taxis, private hire vehicles, heavy goods vehicles, vans, and minibuses
Buses, coaches, taxis, private hire vehicles, heavy goods vehicles, vans, minibuses, cars, plus the option to include motorcycles
What are the emission standards for a Clean Air Zone?
We would always recommend doing your research before travelling to a Clean Air Zone to double-check their expectations when it comes to the emissions that your vehicle produces. However, most will follow the Euro emission standards in place in London’s ULEZ, which are as follows
- Euro 3 for motorcycles, mopeds, motorised tricycles and quadricycles (L category)
- Euro 4 (NOx) for petrol cars, vans, minibuses and other specialist vehicles
- Euro 6 (NOx and PM) for diesel cars, vans and minibuses and other specialist vehicles
Where are the UK’s Clean Air Zones?
Aside from the famous ULEZ, the following city councils have taken the emission-busting initiative, and are participating in the Clean Air Zone scheme:
Bath – Class C
A Class C Clean Air Zone is in operation in Bath’s city centre. This Postcode Checker on the official Bath & North East Somerset Council website should help you check the area of Bath that you’re heading to.
For non-compliant vehicles, there will be a charge of between £9 to £100 a day.
Birmingham – Class D
Operating with class D, Birmingham’s Clean Air Zone will see you pay £8 per day for cars, taxis and LGVs, or £50 a day for coaches, buses and HGVs. You can check which areas of Birmingham are covered by the Clean Air Zone on the official Birmingham City Council website.
Bristol – Class D
Bristol now operates a Class D CAZ too, which covers the main routes into the city. For private vehicles and taxis, there’s a charge of £9 a day, which increases to £100 for buses, coaches and HGVs. Check before you travel into Bristol on the Bristol City Council website.
Bradford – Class C
Bradford now operates a Class C CAZ, but it doesn’t currently affect passenger cars, vans or motorcycles. HGVs, coaches and buses are charged £50 daily to enter the zone, and minibuses need to pay £9. For non-compliant taxis/private hire vehicles, it costs £7.
Check the areas covered on the Bradford Council website.
London – Class D
Expanding later this year to cover Greater London, there is currently an Ultra Low Emission on Central London within the North and South circular roads. More information on ULEZ, its expansion, and the daily charges is available on the TFL website.
Newcastle & Gateshead – Class C
Earlier this year, Newcastle and Gateshead began operating a Class C CAZ. Covering the city centre and routes over the River Tyne, currently means that only taxis and private hire vehicles have to pay £12.50 per day, and buses, coaches and HGVs need to pay £50 a day. Good news for drivers of passenger cars and motorcyclists!
For more information, explore the Newcastle City Council website.
Portsmouth – Class B
Portsmouth operates a Class B CAZ, covering a large portion of the South West area of the city. You can find out all you need to know on the Cleaner Air Portsmouth website.
Sheffield – Class C
In the city centre and inner ring road of Sheffield, there is currently a Class C CAZ in operation, affecting just buses, coaches and HGVs (charged at £50 per day), and LGVs and motorhomes (charged £10 per day). Head to the Sheffield City Council website for more info.
Clean Air Zone areas and the charges to travel within them are subject to change and exemptions, so it’s always best to check on the local council’s website to ensure that your vehicle is compliant and find out what you’ll have to pay if it’s not.