Clean Air Zones: Everything you need to know

The UK government announced their Net Zero Strategy back in October 2021 which sets out its policies and proposals for decarbonising all sectors of the UK economy by 2050. The government want to accelerate the shift from petrol and diesel vehicles to ultra-low and zero-emission vehicles. Part of this includes a plan to invest in freight trails to pioneer hydrogen and other zero-emission HGV lorries.

In addition to the Net Zero Strategy, the government produced the Clean Air Zone Framework which focuses on improving air quality by reducing carbon emissions. Clean Air Zones (CAZ) are already active in cities throughout the UK, with others expected to implement their own later this year. We briefly outlined Clean Air Zones in a previous blog, The New Driving Laws and Rules for 2022, but with additional CAZs expected to come into force this year, we’ve put together everything you need to know about them.

What is a Clean Air Zone?

CAZs were proposed in 2015 and came into effect in 2020. A CAZ defines an area where local authorities have taken action to improve air quality to deliver improved health benefits and support economic growth.

CAZs fall into two categories:

Non-charging Clean Air Zones – Defined geographic areas used as a focus for action to improve air quality.

Charging Clean Air Zones – The same as non-charging zones. Additionally, they require vehicle owners to pay a charge to enter depending on which class the CAZ is and if their vehicle meets the minimum emission standard.

How will Clean Air Zones be introduced?

Local authorities are responsible for implementing CAZs, and they decide what level of restriction to apply.

There are four classes of Clean Air Zone:

  1. Class A – Buses, coaches, taxis, and private hire vehicles (PHVs)
  2. Class B – Buses, coaches, taxis, PHVs and heavy goods vehicles (HGVs)
  3. Class C – Buses, coaches, taxis, PHVs, HGVs and light goods vehicles (LGVs)
  4. Class D – Buses, coaches, taxis, PHVs, HGVs, LGVs and cars

Compliant vehicles are exempt from any charges or restrictions. These include: 

  • Buses, coaches, and HGVs that meet Euro VI emissions standards
  • Cars, vans, and taxis that meet Euro 6 (diesel) or Euro 4 (petrol) emissions standards
  • Ultra-low emission vehicles with a significant zero-emission range
How much will it cost to enter a CAZ?

As we mentioned before, CAZs are either charging or non-charging. The amount you must pay to enter a CAZ will vary depending on what vehicle you are driving and the amount of emissions it produces. Currently, HGVs that don’t meet the standard will pay up to £100 to enter a CAZ.

CAZs often run seven days a week, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. They’re also likely to be policed by automatic number plate recognition cameras. CAZs have special exemptions for residents within the zone, Blue Badge holders, and vehicles with a disabled tax class. However, these exemptions vary between zones.

Where will Clean Air Zones be located?

There are currently five active CAZs, located in:

  • Bath
  • Birmingham
  • London
  • Portsmouth
  • Oxford

New Clean Air Zones are pending in multiple cities throughout the UK, including:

  • Bradford – Spring 2022
  • Manchester – 30th May 2022
  • Dundee – 30th May 2022
  • Edinburgh – 31st May 2022
  • Aberdeen – May 2022
  • Bristol – Summer 2022
  • Glasgow – 1st June 2022
  • Sheffield – Awaiting date
  • Newcastle – Awaiting date
The benefits and challenges

CAZs reduce public exposure to polluted air and emissions, delivering improved health benefits for residents. They also encourage the cleanest vehicles to operate within the zone, which will urge businesses and individuals to consider the economic and operational impacts of the vehicles they acquire. What’s more, CAZs may discourage people from making unnecessary journeys, reducing emissions and congestion, and enabling public transport to run more smoothly.

However, the financial implications of CAZs may negatively affect the logistics industry. HGVs will face expensive charges, which could have a huge impact for many businesses within the sector, leading to loss of revenue and delivery delays. These challenges could be calamitous an essential industry recovering from a mass driver shortage. CAZs could also have a contradictory impact on emissions. For example, hauliers opting for alternative routes to avoid paying high fees may accumulate more miles and produce more emissions.

When challenges arise innovative ideas and resolutions are created, and the future of the supply chain industry looks interesting and exciting. What do you think about Clean Air Zones? Let us know over on our Facebook page.