Clean Air Zones: What Businesses Need To Know
Local authorities have introduced Clean Air Zones (CAZs) in major cities to improve the air quality.
A CAZ can be restricted to one road or part of a whole city. The area may be restricted by the local authority, which could determine the vehicles that will be affected.
If your van is listed as a restricted type vehicle and exceeds Clean Air Zone emission standards, you will be charged to drive through it.
What vehicles will be affected?
There’s four types of Clean Air Zone:
- Class A – Buses/coaches, taxis, and private hire vehicles
- Class B – Buses/coaches, taxis/PHVs, and heavy goods vehicles (HGVs).
- Class C – Buses (coaches, buses, taxis), PHVs (HGVs), and light goods vehicles, LGVs are all included in this class.
- Class D – Buses/coaches, taxis, PHVs/HGVs LGVs, and cars
All buses, coaches, and HGVs must meet Euro VI emission standards to be exempted from any fees or restrictions.
Taxis, vans, and cars that comply with Euro 6 (diesel), or Euro 4 (petrol), emissions standards are exempted from any fees or restrictions.
Vehicles with an extremely low emission range and a substantial zero-emission range are exempted from any charges or restrictions.
What cities have Clean Air Zones already?
Bath is a Class C Clean Air Zone. To avoid paying charges, buses, coaches, minibusses, taxis, private-hire vehicles, heavy goods vehicles and vans must meet the minimum emission standard.
Non-compliant vans/taxis and minibusses will face a £9 per day charge, while non-compliant trucks/lorries/buses will have to pay a daily fee of £100.
Birmingham is a Class D Clean Air Zone. To avoid paying charges, all vehicles must meet the minimum emission standards, including cars, motorcycles, buses, coaches, private hire vehicles, and heavy goods vehicles.
All roads within Birmingham’s A4540 Middleway Ring Road are subject to restrictions, with the exception of the ring road. For cars, vans, and taxis, there will be a daily charge of £8. HGVs, buses, and coaches will need to pay £50 per day.
Many cities will soon implement Clean Air Zones in 2021 or 2022. London’s existing Ultra Low Emission Zones (ULEZs) will be expanded from 25 to October 2021.
In March 2020, Portsmouth’s proposal for a Class-B CAZ was approved by the Government. The City submitted its final plan in December 2020 to Government. The Class B CAZ is launched in November 2021. Drivers of private vans, cars, and motorcycles will not be charged to drive in Portsmouth.
For the Portsmouth CAZ ‘non-compliant’ vehicles are buses, coaches, taxi, private hire vehicles, and heavy goods vehicles that do not meet euro 6 standards if diesel, or euro 4 standard if petrol. Non-compliant taxis and private hire vehicles will be charged £10 per day to drive through the zone, and non-compliant buses, coaches, and heavy goods vehicles will pay £50 per day.
What cities have created Clean Air Zones?
The Bradford City Council plans to establish a Class C CAZ that will cover the majority of Bradford, Shipley, and surrounding areas in Spring 2022. Vehicles that are not in compliance will be subject to daily charges of up to £50. Implementation is contingent on a £60m Government grant.
Starting during summer 2022, Bristol has chosen a small Class D CAZ which will cover all vehicles. Whilst the zone is small, it is worth studying as it covers many key pieces of the road you would use for navigating across Bristol.
Greater Manchester Mayor said that no private vehicle charging scheme would be implemented in any air quality measures. Transport for Greater Manchester suggests that a CAZ may still be in consideration, but it will likely apply to private-hire, buses, and HGVs. This should be possible by May 2022.
Final proposals for a Newcastle CAZ are being made to begin in July 2022. This will affect buses, coaches, lorries, vans, and taxis. Private cars will not be affected.
Partly due to a legal dispute regarding the supply of ANPR cameras for the scheme, the introduction was delayed.
Non-compliant HGVs/buses/coaches will be subject to a £50 charge; taxis/vans will be assessed a £12.50.
Sheffield will implement a Class C CAZ late in 2022, which will affect a section of the inner ring road around the city center. Proposed charges include £50 per day for buses, coaches, and HGVs, £10 per day for taxis, private hire vehicles, and £10 per day for vans or light commercial vehicles over 3.5 tonnes.
Sheffield Council seeks £40 million in Government funding for affected businesses and taxis to upgrade their vehicles. Although the council had hoped to establish the zone by early 2021, the Coronavirus pandemic forced the council to halt its plans until late 2022.
How can I tell if my van is compliant with the minimum emission standards?
To be able to drive in a Clean Air Zone, every van must meet Euro 6 (diesel), and Euro 4 (petrol), emission standards.
The emission standard for your van can be found in your vehicle logbook, or at the manufacturer.
How can I pay and check a CAZ fee?
You must pay the fee within seven days if you have traveled within an active Clean Air Zone. You will receive a Penalty Notice (PCN) if you fail to pay the charge on time.
Before you can drive in Clean Air Zones, you should check whether you will need to pay any fees. You can pay for multiple vehicles if you own a fleet. To check or to pay a fee in a Clean Air Zone, use the online service.
The maximum payment per transaction is £5,000. Any payments exceeding this limit will have to be divided into separate transactions.
What happens if I have multiple vehicles?
Companies that have two or more UK-registered vehicles can open an account to pay and check charges for multiple vehicles. An account can be created online by visiting the Government’s Website.
To create a new account, you will need
- Your company name,
- An email address.
After your account has been set up, you will be able to:
- You can upload multiple number plates to a spreadsheet (CSV), or just add them one at a time.
- See how much each vehicle will be charged for each clean air zone.
- You can manage your vehicles – Add and Remove them.
- To help manage the account, you can add up to 10 people to your team.
- Create an agreement to pay via bank account. Have it ready for charging.
- See maps of Clean Air Zones and see when they are available. Also, learn about exemptions.
What are the exemptions from CAZ fees?
Some local and national exemptions are available from the charge. If you are eligible for a national exemption, you do not need to pay any charge.
- Ultra-low Emission Vehicle
- Tax-class vehicle for disabled passengers
- A vehicle of the disabled tax class
- A military vehicle
- Historic vehicle
- Vehicle retrofitted using technology that is accredited by Clean Vehicle Retrofit Accreditation Program (CVRAS).
- Certain types of agricultural vehicles.
How will Clean Air Zones impact your business?
Businesses that have fleets should be aware of Clean Air Zone fees. The ongoing expense can have a significant impact on your expenditures over time.
Although it is not possible to estimate the number of vans affected by CAZs, it is likely that they will have a significant impact on the national level.
Birmingham City Council estimates that around 60% of the 200,000 vehicles that pass through the city center each day don’t meet Euro 6 diesel emissions standards and Euro 4 petrol cars and vans. The Mayor of London estimates that 35,000 light commercial vehicles could be affected daily by the expansion to the ULEZ.
Experts in the fleet industry argue that it is a good time to organize your vans if you don’t have them already. This is especially true if you are based in the UK or near major cities. Your business could benefit from ensuring your fleet is exempted from CAZ fees.