January 17, 2020

Clean Air Zones

UK Clean Air Zones Update

London’s Clean Air Zone (CAZ), the Ultra Low Emission Zone, came into force on 8th April 2019, creating additional rules and charges for vehicles entering the London Congestion Charge Zone.

Alongside London, Birmingham, Leeds, Southampton, Derby and Nottingham were all mandated by the Government to develop urgent plans to improve their air quality, and many other cities have begun the process of assessment and consultation to develop their own strategies. Of these, Manchester is at the most advanced stage with plans to launch its CAZ in 2021.

Of the five cities mandated by the Government, two, Birmingham and Leeds, have plans to launch CAZ charging schemes in 2020. Southampton, Derby and Nottingham have decided against this type of intervention but do have their own plans to improve air quality through other means.

Originally, the Birmingham and Leeds schemes were due to launch in January 2020 but a delay in the Government’s supply of vehicle checking software has meant a delay in both. The Birmingham zone is currently expected to be operational from 1st July 2020, similarly, Leeds’ council is reporting that their zone will not be in place any earlier than this July. This does give individuals and organisations affected a few more months to prepare.

ultra low emission vehicles green fleet

Birmingham Clean Air Zone

Birmingham’s CAZ will include all roads within the city centre’s main ring road, the A4540 Middleway, but not the Middleway itself. Click here to see a map of the area covered.

The vehicle compliance rules for Birmingham’s CAZ are as follows:

  • Cars, taxis, private hire vehicles, minibuses and LCVs must meet Euro 4 (petrol) and Euro 6 (diesel) emissions standards. This roughly equates to diesel vehicles registered from September 2015 onwards and petrol vehicles registered from January 2006.
  • Buses, coaches and HGVs must meet Euro VI emission standards.

Cars, taxis, private hire vehicles, LCVs and Minibuses that do not meet the standards will be charged £8 per day, while buses, coaches and HGVs will face charges of £50 per day.

For alternative fuel vehicles, all pure-electric and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles will avoid the CAZ charges, hybrid vehicles will need to meet the emissions criteria above.

The fine for not paying the charge will be £120.

Short-term exemptions, lasting one or two years, exist for certain groups of people including those that live within the zone, those that drive into the zone for work and earn less than £30k per annum and drivers of some specialist vehicles. There is also a permanent exemption for drivers of disabled passenger vehicles in tax class 85.

Plans are also in place to provide financial support to drivers living in the CAZ, or entering it for work, to switch to public transport or to replace their vehicles with models that comply with the required standards. For more details on the exemptions and available support click here.

Leeds Clean Air Zone

Leeds’ CAZ will include the area inside the city’s ring road, which is made up of the A6120, M1, A63, A61, A6110 and A647 ring.

Click here to see a map of the area covered.

In the Leeds scheme, only HGVs, buses, coaches, taxis and private hire vehicles that are not compliant with the emissions criteria will face a daily charge for driving into the CAZ. LCVs, private cars and motorcycles will not be charged, regardless of their emissions standard.

The vehicle compliance rules for Leeds’ CAZ are as follows:

  • Taxis and private hire vehicles must meet Euro 4 (petrol) and Euro 6 (diesel) emissions standards. This roughly equates to diesel vehicles registered from September 2015 onwards and petrol vehicles registered from January 2006.
  • Buses, coaches and HGVs must meet Euro VI emission standards.

Taxis and private hire vehicles that do not meet the standards will be charged £12.50 per day or £50 per week, while buses, coaches and HGVs will face charges of £50 per day.

As in Birmingham, the fine for not paying the charge will be £120.

A number of vehicle types will be exempt either temporarily or permanently from the charges and a range of support is also available for those operating taxis and private hire vehicles. For more information click here. 

Trading up to compliant vehicles

Ensuring that vehicles that are likely to frequently enter cities with a CAZ meet the emission standards makes a lot of sense. These modern vehicles are also likely to be more fuel-efficient during all journeys that they make, reducing running costs. If you’d like to discuss updating the vehicles in your fleet contact us for a no-obligation discussion.