Clean Air Zones
As Clean Air Zones (CAZs) become more common around the country, drivers need to check that they have taken all the necessary steps to avoid a fine if they are entering one. Motorists should check that their vehicle meets the emission standards of these zones, or that they have paid the low-emissions fee before entering.
If drivers don’t pay the fee they could be risking a fine of up to £500. Bradford low emission zone started charging from September 26. Bristol, Newcastle and Gateshead will begin charging later this year.
However, despite all the confusion, Tom Hixon, Head of Instructor Support at Bill Plant Driving School, stressed that they are an important step. Mr Hixon said: “Clean Air Zones are an important step in the right direction for combating climate change, and raising awareness about the impact air pollution has on our health.”
The expert added, however, that “understanding how these zones affect our day-to-day lives can be confusing”. So, who do these zones affect?
Clean Air Zone sign
Mr Hixon explained: “Zones A-C can vary from impacting coaches, taxis and HGVs; whereas, zone D sees cars brought into the tariffs. However, this will only impact those vehicles which don’t comply with the emission standards of these zones.
“Diesel-powered vehicles are more likely to be required to pay, specifically if they don’t conform to Euro 6 standard, for petrol vehicles this is Euro 4. You are able to check the emission standard of your vehicle on the Government website to ensure that you aren’t going to be faced with an unexpected fee after driving in these zones.”
Mr Hixon added that despite the confusion, CAZs could lead to “greener motoring”.
Mr Hixon explained: “We have seen the introduction of more low-emission zones across the country – these are a great stepping zone in the move toward cleaner air. Despite this law affecting mainly HGV drivers, the introduction will hopefully see a move towards greener vehicles in the future.”
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Bristol will be the next city to launch its Clean Air Zone on Monday, November 28, with private petrol and diesel cars being charged £9 to drive in the zone. A handful of other cities will also launch their zones in 2023.
A Clean Air Zone was launched in Tyneside (Newcastle and Gateshead) in October 2022, with cameras in operation and signage around the area. However, motorists haven’t had to pay yet, with charges only being introduced on January 30, 2023.
Charging will be introduced in two phases – with non-compliant taxis, private hire vehicles, buses, coaches and HGVs being charged from January. Vans and light goods vehicles will not face charges until July 2023 to allow extra time for vehicle replacements, which are currently affected by a national supply shortage.
Non-compliant lorries, buses and coaches will be hit with £50-a-day tolls, while the worst polluting vans and taxis will be charged £12.50 per day.
Dangerous driving places
Councillor Jane Byrne, cabinet member for connected city at Newcastle City Council, said: “Over the next two months we will be collecting details of vehicles entering the zone and contacting owners of non-compliant higher polluting vehicles, which will be affected from January, to make them aware and provide information about how to get support and financial help.
“We know that van drivers are finding it more difficult to replace vehicles at the moment due to national supply issues and therefore we are delaying charges for those vehicles to give those individuals and businesses more time to prepare.”
The Clean Air Zone in Manchester was supposed to launch in May, but was postponed in February, with the Government saying it would allow for a consultation.
Transport for Greater Manchester submitted a revised proposal for the Clean Air Zone in July, but has claimed that the Government has not yet responded. If it goes ahead, it is due to be the biggest Clean Air Zone in the UK and one of the largest emissions-based charging zones in the world.
Throughout the planning process, players on all sides have criticised it, including Boris Johnson who called it “thoughtless”.
Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham said the scheme had become “unworkable” after the pandemic.
According to recent reports, £62million has been spent on the scheme, despite it not yet going ahead.
This includes the network of ANPR cameras and signage, which included the original May date, which needs to be changed.
Keyword: Clean Air Zones are 'an important step' but could be 'confusing' many drivers