There’s an increasing need to clean up the environment, and Clean Air Zones are one of the ways in which the government is trying to do just that. The aim: to improve air quality and reduce pollution in cities, as well as complying with the EU’s clean air directive. The plans were originally due to be operational by 2020 but, along with most things, they have been delayed by the pandemic.

So what exactly is a CAZ and where will they be?

What is a Clean Air Zone?

A Clean Air Zone, or CAZ, defines an area where targeted action is taken to improve air quality.

Clean Air Zones aim to address all sources of pollution, including nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter, and reduce public exposure to them using a range of measures tailored to a particular location.

Clean Air Zones are usually the first step in transitioning to a low emission economy. With populations growing, we don’t want air pollution to increase with them.

Areas with the most persistent pollution problems are also supported by restrictions to encourage only the cleanest vehicles to operate in the city.

Clean Air Zones fall into two categories: Charging and Non-charging Clean Air Zones, the difference being that in Charging Clean Air Zones vehicle owners are required to pay a charge to enter or move within a zone if they are driving a vehicle that does not meet the specified standard.

There are four classes 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, taxis, PHVs, HGVs and light goods vehicles (LGVs)
Class D – Buses, coaches, taxis, PHVs, HGVs LGVs and cars

If you’re driving a bus, coach or HGV that meets Euro VI emissions standards or a car, van or taxi that meets Euro 6 (diesel) or Euro 4 (petrol) emissions standards, or an ultra-low emission vehicle with a significant zero-emission range, you will not have to pay any charges.

Where are Clean Air Zones?

Bath – LIVE

Bath’s CAZ is a Class C and covers the city centre. There’s a £9 daily charge for non-compliant vans, taxis and minibuses, and a £100 daily charge for non-compliant trucks, lorries, coaches and buses. Private vehicles will not face a charge.

Birmingham – LIVE as of 1st June

Birmingham’s CAZ is a Class D, which means that non-compliant private vehicles will face a daily charge of £8, along with vans and taxis. Non-compliant HGVs, coaches and buses will be charged £50 per day. It covers the roads within the A4540 Middleway Ring Road, but not the Middleway road itself.

Other Clean Air Zones are scheduled for cities across the UK, details can be found here.

Driving in a Clean Air Zone

If you’re travelling to or through a Clean Air Zone, then you’ll need to check if your vehicle will be charged. Head to this link to check your vehicle and pay if necessary.

All you have to do is enter your vehicle’s registration number, and the tool will inform you if there is a charge for driving your vehicle in the Clean Air Zone you’ve chosen.

If you’re interested in reducing your emissions, consider choosing an electric company car, or transitioning your fleet to electric.