Will you be charged for entering a Clean Air Zone?

The government has launched a new online tool to help drivers and businesses to prepare for the new Clean AIr Zones in Leeds and Birmingham.

Clean Air Zone checker

A new online service has been launched for drivers to check if they’ll be charged to drive in a Clean Air Zone (CAZ).

By using the online tool, motorists will know if there will be a daily charge to drive into the CAZ. A fee will apply if a car doesn’t meet the minimum emissions standards.

Birmingham and Leeds will have the first Clean Air Zones in 2020, but further authorities will follow. Cities bringing in low emission zones include Bath and Sheffield.

”Air pollution has improved significantly,” said the government, but “there is more to do, and local authorities are taking forward Clean Air Zones to reduce the use of polluting vehicles”. 

How does the online checker work?

To find out if you’ll be charged to enter a Clean Air Zone, you’ll need to visit the CAZ charge website. You’ll require the number plate (registration number) of the vehicle you want to drive into the zone.

You will be asked you to confirm the details before asking which zone you want to drive in. 

By using the details of a 2012 Isuzu D-Max, we discovered that we’d be charged £8 for entering Birmingham, but there would be no charge for driving in Leeds. This is because Leeds will initially charge heavy goods vehicles, buses, coaches, taxis and private hire vehicles for entering the city.

The different types of Clean Air Zones

Leeds Clean Air Zone

There are four types of CAZ: A, B, C and D, which are summarised as follows:

Class Vehicle type
A Buses, coaches, taxis, private hire vehicles
B Buses, coaches, taxis, private hire vehicles
C Buses, coaches, taxis, private hire vehicles, HGVs, vans, minibuses
D Buses, coaches, taxis, private hire vehicles, HGVs, vans, minibuses, cars. Local authority has the option to include motorcycles

The first Clean Air Zones will be launched in the summer but the two cities will operate different schemes. For example, Birmingham is a Class D, while Leeds is a Class B. It’s also worth noting that London operates it own Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ).

Birmingham City Council has said that its zone is expected to come into operation on 1 July 2020. Meanwhile, Leeds City Council says the launch has “been delayed beyond 6 January 2020”, but it hopes ”to announce a new launch date soon”.

Are there any exemptions?

Birmingham Clean Air Zone

There are some national and local exemptions from the Clean Air Zone charges. By contacting the relevant authorities you can find out if there are any local exemptions, but the following are automatically exempt from national charges:

  • Ultra low emission vehicle
  • Disabled passenger tax class vehicle
  • Military vehicle
  • Historic vehicle
  • Vehicle retrofitted with technology accredited by the Clean Vehicle Retrofit Accreditation Scheme (CVRAS)

Is everyone happy with the online checker?

Not everyone is convinced that the government’s online checker is an effective tool. RAC spokesperson Rod Dennis said: “We do have some concerns about how effective this ‘beta’ website currently is in checking the compliance of every vehicle.

“Drivers of some early Euro 6 diesel vehicles for example will face a strange situation where this website tells them their car is not compliant for Birmingham’s clean air zone. But if they were to use London website checker, where the Ultra Low Emission Zone standard operates to the same Euro 6 standard, they will find it is compliant.

“This explains why the new website carries a notice that asks drivers to check back on the site closer to the time new clean air zones come in.

“In short, a number plate is not a reliable way of finding out a car’s Euro emissions standards so we recommend drivers double-check with their vehicle manufacturer to be sure. There is now very little time for drivers in cities such as Birmingham with non-compliant vehicles to change them. Those who still need a car for essential journeys but can’t afford to switch to a compliant one will soon face daily charges as certain cities take action to clean up their air.”

Where to find more information

The following websites are useful sources of information:

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Gavin Braithwaite-Smithhttp://www.petrolblog.com
Writer with a penchant for #FrenchTat. Also doing a passable impression of Cousin Eddie in an Italian-German beige motorhome.

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