Here’s what’s going on in Clean Air Zones throughout the country, and the London ULEZ.
There are eight Clean Air Zones (CAZ) currently in operation, or being proposed:
Most are now launched, although the Greater Manchester CAZ is currently under review. In January 2023, the Government asked for additional evidence to support Greater Manchester’s case for a non-charging Clean Air Plan, which will be presented in June 2023.
The Clean Air Zone around Newcastle city centre and on routes over the River Tyne went live on January 30, and temporary arrangements which allowed drivers extra time to pay Clean Air Zone charges came to an end on March 27.
Vehicle owners who fail to pay a CAZ charge on time were granted an extra seven days to pay, but now they have a six-day deadline to avoid an additional penalty of up to £120.
Charges of up to £50 a day apply to taxis, buses, coaches and HGVs that don’t meet emissions requirements. From July however, charges will also apply to older, non-compliant vans. Private cars, motorbikes and low emission vehicles are not affected.
Details of how to pay a CAZ charge can be found at www.breathe-cleanair.com/how-to-pay.
Sheffield’s Clean Air Zone launched on February 27. Covering the inner ring road and city centre, it’s a class C chargeable zone, which means the most polluting heavy goods vehicles (HGVs), light goods vehicles (LGVs), vans, buses, coaches and taxis that drive within it are liable for charges of up to £50 per day, depending on the vehicle’s age and emissions.
However, Sheffield City Council has announced that businesses based in Sheffield or Rotherham running LGVs may be eligible to apply for a temporary exemption until 5 June 2023.
Bath and North East City Council has reported a 13.9% reduction in nitrogen dioxide (NO2) from July to September 2022 compared to the same period in 2019 in its Clean Air Zone, which launched in March 2021.
Only eight sites out of 70 in total were found to have increased in NO2 concentration when compared with 2019 Q3. The council said these were mainly around Queen Square, and due to temporary roadworks on a nearby bridge which increased congestion.
It also claimed that as a result of the CAZ, more than 850 polluting vehicles had been replaced using government funds.
Birmingham City Council, which launched its Clean Air Zone in 2021, has had to drop nearly 50,000 charges after drivers refused to pay in protest at the scheme, the Birmingham Mail has reported.
The report said around 6% of all charge notices have been scrapped by the city council since the launch of the CAZ, and it has given up chasing another 20,000 fines, citing the amount of time and resource needed.
A new report by City Hall has claimed air quality has improved in London as a result of the widened Ultra Low Emission Zone.
The report looks at the one-year impact of the expanded ULEZ, which in October 2021 increased in size to include all areas up to the North and South Circular Roads. The ULEZ is now 18 times the size of the original area and covers four million people – around 44% of London’s population.
It found that harmful pollution emissions have reduced by 26% in the zone, and in inner London, pollution levels are 21% lower than they would have been without the ULEZ, claiming that 74,000 fewer polluting vehicles are driving in the zone every day - a 60% reduction since it expanded the year before.
The findings were welcomed by campaign groups. Sarah Woolnough, CEO at Asthma + Lung UK, said: “The devastating impact that air pollution can have on our lungs and lives should not be underestimated. The ULEZ expansion across inner London shows that where there is political leadership, things can get better and millions of people can breathe cleaner air.”
The zone is set to get bigger still this year. On August 29, every London Borough will become part of the Ultra Low Emission Zone, and every driver, either travelling into it or already living within its boundaries, will have to pay the charge if their vehicle does not comply.
Electric vehicles can enter the ULEZ free of charge, as can most Euro 4 cars and Euro 6 commercial vehicles. You can find out if a specific vehicle is compliant here.