The UK’s Clean Air Zones Explained

The UK government recently announced that it will ban all sales of new petrol and diesel cars beginning in 2030. The UK government is also set to ban hybrid vehicles starting in 2035. These efforts are directed toward the goal of significantly cutting road transport greenhouse gas emissions.

Additionally, the ban will help fast-track the shift to electric vehicles or EVs, as well as the goal of achieving net zero emissions by the year 2050. The more important mission, however, is to lower air pollution levels in cities and towns, and in the process, help improve the UK residents’ quality of life.

One of the programs the government has come up with is the CAZ or Clean Air Zones. 

Understanding CAZs

The Clean Air Zones were created with one major goal in mind: to reduce the number of high emission vehicles entering or driving through specific zones or areas. For these vehicles to get in, a certain fee must be paid. 

CAZs are designated areas that have dangerous levels of air pollution and therefore need to improve air quality. They are expected to lower pollutants such as particulate matter or PM2.5, hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide, and NOx or nitrogen oxides.

Types of CAZs

There are two CAZ types.

Charging Clean Air Zones are those that collect a fee for high emission vehicles to enter the premises or areas under the zones. The environmental standards required by CAZs are according to the specific vehicle’s Euro emissions standard.

Non-charging CAZs are focused on improving the quality of air in the areas covered. They do not require high emission vehicles entering the zones to pay a fee or charge. What these Clean Air Zones have are measures to help improve air quality, including traffic rerouting, managing traffic flow to lessen vehicle emissions, and vehicle retrofitting.

CAZ benefits

Clean Air Zones help lessen toxic air by limiting, reducing, or removing the volume of high emission vehicles from driving inside a town centre or city. This makes the area a little safer for residents, especially those who have existing health issues – particularly the children and the elderly, as air quality will improve.

CAZ has other benefits as well, including:

  • Clean Air Zones help lessen town and city congestion.
  • Clean Air Zones help fast-track the government’s zero emissions goal.
  • Clean Air Zones encourage residents to choose the safer and cleaner alternatives when travelling, such as the train or any other public transport.

CAZ classes

There are four classes of Clean Air Zones: Class A, Class B, Class C, and Class D.

Class A CAZs are for coaches, private hire vehicles, taxis, and buses while Class B CAZs are intended for private hire vehicles, taxis, buses, heavy goods vehicles (HGVs), and coaches.

Class C Clean Air Zones are created for private hire vehicles, taxis, buses, HGVs, LGVs or light goods vehicles, and coaches.

Class D Clean Air Zones cater to private hire vehicles, taxis, buses, HGVs, cars, LGVs, and coaches.

An online service is available for car owners who want to know if they will have to pay a charge upon entering a CAZ. Business owners can check if their multiple vehicles are required to pay the charge or fine. Be sure to prepare your vehicle’s registration number if you want to check the charges for a particular CAZ. The volume of emissions your vehicle produces will also help determine how much you will be charged. 

A single transaction should not exceed £5,000 as it is the maximum charge amount. Payments that go over the said amount shall be divided into separate payments.   

Clean Air Zones

The Clean Air Zones that are active are the following:

  1. Birmingham
  2. Bath
  3. Portsmouth
  4. Dundee
  5. Aberdeen
  6. Edinburgh

Clean Air Zones that are set to open soon are:

  • Greater Manchester (implementation still under review)
  • Bradford (September 2022)
  • Bristol (November 2022)
  • Tyneside (Gateshead and Newcastle) (late 2022-early 2023)
  • Sheffield (early 2023)

Other Clean Air Zones are set to open for the rest of 2022. London’s ULEZ or Ultra-Low Emission Zone is set to expand towards the end of August 2023. 

Dieselgate scandal

One of the reasons for the constant increase of toxic air is the Dieselgate diesel emissions scandal in 2015, where Volkswagen was caught by US authorities using illegal defeat devices in their diesel vehicles. The devices are programmed to detect emissions testing and when they do, the devices artificially reduce emissions levels to within the World Health Organization limits.

However, when the vehicles were tested in real-world driving conditions, they emitted excessive amounts of nitrogen oxides, which are dangerous to the environment and human health. NOx emissions are also known to cause premature death.

Aside from Volkswagen, other carmakers implicated in the scandal are Mercedes-Benz, Renault, Audi, Porsche, and BMW, among others. With the diesel emissions scam, these carmakers deceived their customers by selling the pollutant vehicles as clean and safe.

How do I start my diesel claim?

Carmakers should file an emissions claim against their carmakers. Erring manufacturers should be held responsible for their lies and mis-selling.  

So, how do I start my diesel claim?

Find a panel of emissions solicitors who can help make the claims litigation process easier for you. First off, though, you should determine if you’re eligible to file a claim by getting in touch with

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