The UK government is always looking at ways to reduce the levels of emission and increase air quality. This resulted in the city of London bringing in the Ultra-Low Emission Zone (ULEZ), which in turn inspired the implementation of Clean Air Zones (CAZs) in cities around the UK.
When drivers travel within CAZs, they may have to pay daily charges if their vehicle falls under a certain size chart or emissions output. These zones are specified by letter classes from A to D. Class A zones have fewer vehicles that are verified for travel in comparison to Class D which has more. Cars that don’t output emissions,such as battery electric vehicles (BEVs) and those that meet Euro 4 or 6 standards, won’t incur these charges.
As a motorist in the UK, you may wonder how this will impact your daily life and drives. In this article, we’ll take you through which major cities have CAZs that are active right now. We’ll also talk about where they’re opening and where you should look for support.
The benefits of CAZs
You might ask how beneficial the addition of these zones is if they’re being implemented around the country. For starters, an analysis of the CBI Economics commissioned by the Clean Air Fund (CAF) discovered that 1% of premature deaths could be prevented, as well as a reduction in nitrogendioxide by 18%.
Improving air quality is beneficial to everyone, not just the environment or those at greater risk. Bad air quality has been linked with issues like infections that affect your lungs and breathing, heart problems, and asthma.
Plus, with the government’s plan to halt the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles in the UK by 2030, the introduction of CAZs could help boost the sales of electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles. These vehicles produce zero and lower emissions respectively, meaning that travel within these zones isn’t an issue for their owners.
Active CAZs in the UK
Right now, there are five active CAZs in various cities in England. Three of the five are in the South – in Bath, Bristol and Portsmouth – while the Midlands has one in Birmingham, and Bradford hosts the North’s only current CAZ.
The CAZ in Portsmouth is a Class B andis around threesquare kilometres, centring around the city’s areas that see the largest amount of traffic. This includes the University, shopping centre, and the harbour, and the costs in effect are £10 for taxis and £50 for larger vehicles like HGVs, buses, and coaches. Passenger cars aren’t charged in this zone.
Bath’s CAZ falls under Class C and covers not only the city centre, but also Kingsmead, Walcot, Bathwick, and the Royal Victoria Park. Any larger vehicles in this area must pay a daily charge of £100, while taxis must pay £9. Like Portsmouth, regular passenger cars are not charged.
This isn’t the case in Birmingham, as the CAZ on the A4540 Middleway Ring Road is a Class D. This means that all vehicles incur a charge when travelling on that road, with large vehicles seeing £50 charges, while taxis and passenger vehicles incur charges of £8.
Bristol also has a Class D CAZ, which encompasses much of the city centre. Class D means all vehicles are charged, and this means that smaller vehicles only receive a £9 charge while the larger ones are required to pay £100 daily.
Bradford has one of the newest active CAZs, falling under the Class C category.Here, only heavy vehicles receive a £50 charge, and taxis are charged £7 for travelling within the limits.
Where has upcoming CAZs?
There are currently two CAZs that are set to become active in England. The first is the Tyneside area CAZ that focuses on Newcastle and Gateshead to start charging from the bridges over the Tyne all the way up to the university campuses to the North. The second is in Sheffield and covers the majority of the city centre.
A CAZ in Greater Manchester was set to open earlier in 2022, however, the government confirmed that the plans to integrate it would be placed on hold while further reviews were conducted. It is currently still unconfirmed whether it will be introduced, despite over £60 million being spent on the project in the city.
What do I need to know for my journeys?
You’re now probably asking where your vehicle falls into the classification. The government has a page on their site that outlines exactly which cars are subject to charges depending on the grade of the CAZ and which vehicles are automatically exempt. This list includes ultra-low emission vehicles like EVs, disabled tax class and disabled passenger tax class vehicles, and even certain agricultural machines and vehicles.
From here you can access the page specifically designed to check whether your vehicle will receive any charges by inputting your registration plate. Not only will you see a full breakdown of where yourvehicle might be charged in CAZs around the country, but it also allows you to pay any outstanding charges. So, if you’re planning on driving through Bristol in your used Audi A1, you’ll know how much you could be charged and plan accordingly.
CAZs might feel like an excessive addition to roads that could impact your daily commute but they’re there for good reason. They could encourage owners of less efficient cars to switch to electric or hybrid vehicles, and SMMT carried out research in January 2022 that showed the average emissions for new cars reduced by over 11% more than they did in 2021. These changes are necessary for ensuring a liveable ad more sustainable future.