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Clean Air Zones, what are they?

Clean Air Zones, what are they?

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The automotive industry is making the switch to zero-emission vehicles as it attempts to do its part to tackle climate change and improve air quality.

Common tactic to battle air pollution in the UK is Clean Air Zones

The automotive industry is making the switch to zero-emission vehicles as it attempts to do its part to tackle climate change and improve air quality.

However, another increasingly common tactic to battle air pollution in the UK is Clean Air Zones. They’re designed to improve the quality of air in major cities and are slowly being rolled out across the country.

Here, we explain what they are, how they’re implemented, and how they affect motorists…


What is a Clean Air Zone?

Clean Air Zones are specific areas of a city that have been identified as needing to reduce emissions to improve air quality.

There are both charging and non-charging zones. Non-charging zones do not require any payment to enter, but will likely have some form of traffic management, rerouting some vehicles, or retrofitting certain vehicles that enter the zone with emissions-reducing devices.

Charging zones tend to be more visible and require drivers of any vehicle that does not meet certain emissions standards to pay. The idea is to discourage drivers of more polluting cars from entering the area and encourage the purchase and use of cleaner vehicles.

What types of Clean Air Zones are there?

There are four types of Clean Air Zone. Class A zones target Buses, coaches, taxis, private hire vehicles, Class B zones add heavy goods vehicle, Class C zones add minibuses, and Class D zones include cars with the option of motorcycles.

Each of these vehicle types must meet certain emissions standards. Buses, coaches and heavy goods vehicles must meet Euro VI; vans, minibuses, taxis, private hire vehicles and cars must meet Euro 6 for diesel and Euro 4 for petrol; and motorcycles must meet Euro 3.

Taxis and private hire vehicles could have different standards depending on the local authority, so it’s worth checking before entering the zone.

If you’re unsure which emissions standards your vehicle meets, a quick online search will tell you. Generally speaking, most cars registered after September 1, 2015, will meet Euro 6 diesel, while most registered after January 1, 2006, will meet Euro 4 petrol.

How much does entering a Clean Air Zone cost?

Costs vary depending on the city, so check before entering so you don’t get a shock. For example, in Bath, non-compliant trucks, lorries, buses and coaches face a £100 charge, but it costs half that in both Birmingham and Portsmouth.

Which cities have Clean Air Zones?

According to the Government website, there are just three cities that currently have a Clean Air Zone. These are Bath (Class C), Birmingham (Class D) and Portsmouth (Class B).

However, three more areas – Bradford, Bristol and Greater Manchester – are planning to implement the zones.

London Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ)

London’s ULEZ is a separate entity and doesn’t technically fall under the Clean Air Zone umbrella. It costs £12.50 per day for non-compliant cars, motorcycles and vans, while HGVs are faced with a £100 charge.

In October 2021, the zone expanded massively to include boroughs up to the North and South Circular roads

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