Background to Clean Air Zones
In its Clean Air Strategy 2019, the Government identifies nitrogen oxide (NOx) concentrations around roads as an ‘immediate and urgent’ air quality challenge, with road transport being responsible for some 80% of all NOx concentrations at the roadside.
This follows the UK Plan for Tackling Roadside Nitrogen Dioxide Concentrations, published in 2017 and supplemented in 2018, which mandated local authorities in England to develop plans to bring roadside concentrations of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) within legal limits in the shortest possible time.
- Five City Councils were originally mandated by the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) under the 2017 / 18 plan to reduce NO2 levels: Birmingham, Derby, Leeds, Nottingham and Southampton. These authorities were also instructed to include the potential of introducing a Clean Air Zone (CAZ) in their plans – and whether this would include a charging scheme.
- In March 2018, a further 23 local authorities were instructed by Defra to take steps to reduce roadside emissions and 33 to carry out studies on reducing NO2 air pollution in their areas.
- In November 2018, the Welsh Government published its supplemental plan to the UK plan for tackling roadside nitrogen dioxide concentrations, which directed the councils of Cardiff and Caerphilly to undertake an assessment by 30 June 2019 to achieve NO2 limit values within the shortest possible time.
Types of charging CAZ
There are four types of charging CAZ, which will be indicated on signs through the letters A–D.
A: Buses, coaches, taxis and private hire vehicles
B: As above, plus Heavy Goods Vehicles (HGVs)
C: As above, plus Light Goods Vehicles (LGVs)
D: As above, plus cars
Guidance and Vehicle Checker
Guidance published by Defra for what to expect when driving in a CAZ can be found online here.
The guidance includes a link to Defra and the Department for Transport (DfT)’s online vehicle checker, aimed at allowing motorists to find out if their vehicle will be impacted by daily CAZ charges, based on emission standards of the vehicle in question.
The vehicle checker advises users to check / re-check their vehicle details shortly before intending to drive in any CAZs, given that the data will be regularly improved.
The vehicle checker cannot check vehicles registered outside the UK.
See example screenshots from the vehicle checker below.