Some local authorities are introducing clean air zones, where you may have to pay a charge if your vehicle exceeds emissions standards. This article will explain what this means, what the charges are, which clean air zones currently exist, and why these zones have been created.
For the last five years, the government has been working to improve air quality in cities across the UK.
With the UK Government’s deadline to ban the sale of all new diesel and petrol cars being possibly less than 10 years away, local authorities across the UK are trying to do their bit to promote clean air, through creating clean air zones or low emission zones.
What Are Clean Air Zones?
Ahead of the ban, multiple UK cities are adopting clean air zones (CAZs), or low emission zones (LEZs), in a bid to reduce pollution. Clean air zones are areas that charge or penalise highly polluting vehicles based on their European emission standard.
There are two types of clean air zone: non-charging and charging. Vehicles with higher emissions are either unable to enter the designated area or need to pay an additional charge to enter.
Implementing clean air zones is often the best way for towns and cities to improve local air pollution and make it safer for residents to breathe.
Why Do Clean Air Zones Exist?
Cleaner air has health benefits for everyone, especially for the elderly, young children and those with health conditions. Pollutants in the air that have been traced to vehicles can lead to respiratory infections, decreased lung function and heart problems.
It is hoped that each clean air zone will reduce levels of air pollution, having a positive impact on the health of those living and working here.
These zones can also help accelerate the uptake of low or zero-emission vehicles, such as electric vehicles, and also encourage many to consider using public transport or active travel methods such as walking and cycling, which is also great for the environment and reducing traffic congestion countrywide.
Where Are The Clean Air Zones?
Clean air zones have been implemented in areas where air pollution levels are dangerous to health. There are currently five low emission zones in the UK, with several more to be introduced over the new few years.
At present, London is the UK’s first ultra-low emission zone (ULEZ). Other clean air zones are in Glasgow, Brighton, Norwich and Oxford. Apart from London, these clean air zones currently only apply to buses, although this is likely to be updated to include other vehicles soon enough.
To check if your vehicle meets emissions standard to drive in a ULEZ or regular clean air zone in London, use this tool on the TfL website. When you plan on driving through any other UK cities, the gov.uk online vehicle checker is worth using to find out if you will be charged, based on your car registration.
Will More Clean Air Zones Be Created?
Previously, clean air zones were expected to be established in Bristol, Cardiff, Coventry, Hull, Leicester, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Sheffield and Stoke, but were dropped for reasons of expense. These, along with schemes for dozens of other cities, are eventually expected to be revisited.
As it stands, the confirmed dates for clean air zones in 2021 are:
The government has also stated that “more cities will implement clean air zones later in 2021 and 2022”.
To find out more about the new government measures to clean up road transport and lead the world in the development, manufacture and use of zero-emission road vehicles, take a look at the ‘Road to Zero’ strategy.
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