What are Clean Air Zones?

What are Clean Air Zones?


Clean Air Zones are urban areas where measures have been put in place to improve the air quality.

What Are Clean Air Zones?

The introduction of these zones is part of the government’s Air Quality Plan, which hopes to tackle the problem of poor air quality by addressing the sources of pollution themselves.

How will they work?

There will be charging and non-charging Clean Air Zones. In non-charging zones, vehicles will not have to pay to enter the area. However, there could be traffic flow management to lessen emissions, some traffic may be rerouted, certain cars might be retrofitted, and local authorities will bring in any other measures they feel appropriate for the zone. In charging zones, vehicles that don’t meet the decided environmental standards will have to pay to enter the area. In general, vehicles that don’t meet the decided standards include most petrol cars first registered before the end of 2005, and diesels registered before 1 September 2015. Despite this however, drivers are advised to check with their manufacturer to see which Euro emissions standard category their vehicle falls into. Find out more here.

Why do we have them?

Environmental groups put pressure on the government to introduce ways to reduce pollution and improve air quality. Due to this pressure the Supreme Court ordered government ministers to find ways to lower the levels of nitrogen dioxide present in the air. Poor air quality can generate and aggravate many health issues such as causing asthma sufferers to have more frequent breathing difficulties and attacks. It can even lead to premature death. Therefore, improving air quality is vital to keeping people healthy.

Where are they?

There are five cities that are required to have a Clean Air Zone by 2020. These are Birmingham, Leeds, Southampton, Nottingham, and Derby. London also has its own Ultra Low Emission Zone. Each city must create their own measures that they feel will most successfully reduce the levels of pollution. They must also decide how wide, and where each zone will be. In Birmingham, it appears that all older vehicles will be charged for passing through the zone. Whereas in the other cities, for now, it seems that only heavier vehicles such as trucks, HGVs, buses and taxis will be charged. Other cities are also thought to eventually be involved with the Clean Air Zone plans as time goes on.

How can they impact your business?

It may become necessary for you to pay to pass through certain Clean Air Zone areas or to upgrade your fleet to more efficient and less environmentally damaging vehicles. It is therefore important that businesses plan ahead for the introduction of the Clean Air Zones, particularly small businesses who may find it more difficult to finance required changes.

A coalition of trade associations is attempting to ensure that businesses that rely on HGVs will not be overly negatively impacted by the Clean Air Zones. They want to see a focus purely on the oldest and least efficient vehicles, and only in places where there is a recognised problem so that businesses that have no choice but to use HGVs will not be penalised unfairly. The solutions they would like the government to consider, are there to try and lessen the negative financial impact for small businesses affected by the new measures.

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