• January 27, 2023

  • Abby Nuttall

  • Articles

It’s been a little while since we’ve written about clean air zones so we wanted to give you an update on where they are, who pays and other key information you should know for your fleet.

What is a Clean Air Zone?

A Clean Air Zone (CAZ) is an area in a city or town where the local government has implemented measures to improve air quality.  One of the most common methods to improve air quality is to impose charges for vehicles, or certain types of vehicles to drive in the area.

CAZs are similar to London’s low emission zone but they are not managed in the same way and you will not be able to make a payment on the low emission zone system for another CAZ or vice versa.

Types of Clean Air Zones

The UK currently has four different types of CAZs:

  • Class A – applies to buses, coaches, taxis and private hire vehicles.
  • Class B – applies to buses, coaches, taxis, private hire vehicles and heavy goods vehicles.
  • Class C – applies to buses, coaches, taxis, private hire vehicles, heavy goods vehicles, vans and minibuses.
  • Class D – applies to buses, coaches, taxis, private hire vehicles, heavy goods vehicles, vans, minibuses, and cars. The local authority also has the option to include motorcycles as well.

In order to avoid having to pay a charge to drive in the CAZ vehicles will need to meet certain emission standards.

Buses, coaches and heavy goods vehicles will need to meet a minimum of Euro VI standards.

Vans, minibuses, taxis, private hire vehicles and cars will need to meet Euro 6 standards if diesel and Euro 4 if petrol. Local authorities may set different standards for taxis and private hire vehicles which can differ from these so you always check what the standards are before driving into a CAZ if you are operating one of these vehicles.

Motorcycles will need to meet Euro 3 standards.

What Cities Have Clean Air Zones?

In the UK there are currently five active CAZs and three more are due to go live this year.

  • Bath has a Class C CAZ
  • Birmingham has a Class C CAZ
  • Bradford has a Class C CAZ
  • Bristol has a Class D CAZ
  • Portsmouth has a Class B CAZ

Tyneside (Newcastle and Gateshead) are going to start charging on Monday, the 30th of January.

Sheffield will begin charging drivers for driving in their CAZ from the 27th of February this year.

Greater Manchester’s plans for a CAZ are currently under consultation due to changes in supply availability and traffic during covid.

We have previously written about other cities that were considering CAZs. Cardiff, Coventry and Nottingham were considering CAZs as part of their emission reduction strategies but have since been able to reach their goal levels without the need to do this. Glasgow are planning to introduce a similar zone called a Low Emission Zone (LEZ) which charges drivers to drive within the zone. Similarly, Oxford has a Zero Emission Zone (ZEZ) which will charge all road users based on emission levels and even very low polluting vehicles will need to pay a fee.

How to Pay CAZ Charges

You can use the government’s online service to check if you are required to pay any charges in a CAZ and make payment.

This service allows you to check and pay for multiple vehicles if you set up an account on their online system which means fleet managers can check and make payments for vehicles across the fleet.

Are There Exemptions to CAZ Charges?

There are a few exemptions to clean air zones, both nationally and locally.

On a national level you will be automatically exempt for:

  • A vehicle that’s ultra low emissions
  • A disabled passenger tax class vehicle
  • A disabled tax class vehicle
  • A military vehicle
  • A historic vehicle
  • A vehicle retrofitted  with technology that has been accredited by the Clean Vehicle Retrofit Accreditation Scheme (CVRAS)
  • Certain types of agricultural vehicles

Greater Manchester currently has a temporary exemption in place for light goods vehicles until the 31st of May 2023. Tyneside also has an exemption for light goods vehicle but theirs is in place until July 2023.

Sheffield has a similar exemption for light goods vehicles and hackney carriage vehicles in place until the 4th of June 2023.

You can find more about the local exemptions on the individual authorities pages, to make this easier for you we’ve linked these below:

Bath CAZ exemption information

Birmingham CAZ exemption information

Bradford CAZ exemption information

Bristol CAZ exemption information

Greater Manchester CAZ exemption information

Portsmouth CAZ exemption information

Sheffield CAZ exemption information

Tyneside CAZ exemption information


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