Charging Clean Air Zones Status Update: May 2020
wc. 4 May 2020: Local authority plans
Many town and city authorities across England and Wales (outside London) are considering ways to improve air quality through a reduction of nitrogen dioxide NO2 levels. With some of these authorities in the process of introducing, consulting on, or drawing up plans for a Charging Clean Air Zone (CAZ), PATROL provides an update as of 5 May 2020.*
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.
Delay to roll-out due to COVID-19 pandemic
On 8 April 2020, due to the ongoing situation of the COVID-19 pandemic, Defra announced that the timetable for roll-out of CAZs is being reviewed, with the expectation that no zone will launch earlier than January 2021.
The communication from Defra’s Joint Air Quality Unit (JAQU) is below:
We are writing to all of our stakeholders to update you on what is happening with Clean Air Zones in light of the current crisis. We understand that this is a difficult time for everybody, and that many of you are providing vital services to the UK’s response to, or have been significantly impacted by, the Covid 19 pandemic.
Air pollution is a public health risk and has significant health impacts which can shorten lives. Improving air quality is an important part of creating healthy places for people to live and work. Although the current restrictions on movement may have resulted in short term improvements in air quality both locally and nationally, these are unlikely to endure once the crisis ends. The Government remains under a legal obligation to deliver compliance with air quality limits, measured on an annual average basis, in the shortest possible time, and is committed to delivering on this obligation. However, the national response to the current public health emergency has already impacted on a range of public functions at both local and national level and will continue to do so. In order to provide certainty to those affected by Clean Air Zones, we will work with local authorities to delay introducing Clean Air Zones until after the Covid 19 outbreak response. We will keep the timetable under review but we expect the introduction of Clean Air Zones to be no earlier than January 2021, and we will keep any delay as short as possible.
We are in a new and evolving situation which needs a co-ordinated approach to minimise wider societal impacts. The Government is committed to maintaining an open dialogue and working with all of our key stakeholders to understand what work is achievable.
Overview of current local authority plans: England and Wales (outside London)
A detailed overview of authority plans for Charging CAZs can be found in the table below.
|Location||Zone proposed||Current status||Further information|
||Bath & North East Somerset Council|
||Birmingham City Council
||Bristol City Council
||Broxbourne Borough Council|
||Cambridge City Council|
||Cardiff City Council|
||Coventry City Council|
||Leeds City Council|
||Liverpool City Council|
|Manchester (Greater Manchester Combined Authority)
Bolton, Bury, Manchester, Oldham, Rochdale, Salford, Stockport, Tameside, Trafford
||Clean Air Greater Manchester|
|Newcastle, Gateshead and North Tyneside||
|Oxford||Zero Emission Zone (ZEZ)||
||Oxford City Council|
||Portsmouth City Council|
||Sheffield City Council|
* PLEASE NOTE: This article is intended to track the development of Charging Clean Air Zones in England and Wales, and is updated periodically based on information that becomes available in the public domain.
Any questions regarding a particular Charging Clean Air Zone should be directed to the specific local authority, rather than PATROL.