September launch for the Leeds Clean Air Zone

The Leeds Clean Air Zone (CAZ) will go live on 28 September 2020. The CAZ was due to come into operation in January, but Leeds City Council has confirmed the new date.

From 28 September, buses, coaches, heavy goods vehicles (HGVs), taxis and private hire vehicles that fail to meet minimum emissions standards will be charged for entering certain parts of the city.

Non-compliant HGVs, buses and coaches will be charged £50 per day for entering the CAZ, with taxis and private hire vehicles subject to a £12.50 daily charge. Leeds City Council says the money will be used for covering the cost of the scheme, supporting owners of affected vehicles and the creation of other air improvement measures in the city.

Around 300 cameras will be placed at 100 junctions throughout the city.

Since plans for a CAZ were announced, the city has seen ‘significant improvements in air quality’ as operators prepare for the zone’s introduction. The council says air pollution on the A660 has fallen below legal limits as a result of lower emission buses being used on the route.

To date, £5.4 million has been awarded to support local businesses switch to cleaner vehicles, with an additional £3.1 million earmarked to help other operators.

Leeds Clean Air Zone map

As can be seen from this map, the Leeds CAZ extends from Farsley in the west to Colton in the east, and Moortown in the north to Hunslet in the south. These are approximate boundaries, so you’re advised to check the map for more information.

The Holbeck (Jack Lane), Pudsey and Seacroft industrial areas will be exempt from CAZ charges until after 31 December 2024.

‘Time for businesses to prepare’

James Lewis, the council executive for air quality, said: “Having been forced to delay the introduction of the zone last year due to delays to government systems, I am delighted that we are now able to confirm a go-live date for the Leeds Clean Air Charging Zone giving affected businesses clarity to help them prepare for the zone’s introduction.

“We’re already seeing improvements to our city’s air quality thanks to the thousands of drivers that have already switched to less-polluting vehicles. As more businesses switch to cleaner vehicles to avoid charges we will no doubt continue to deliver even more improvements.

“With six months before the zone takes effect, it is now time for businesses to prepare. I would strongly encourage those who may be affected to check their vehicle and find out more about the financial support and exemptions available by visiting our website.”

The Birmingham Clean Air Zone is expected to launch in July. Last week, the council opened applications for temporary exemption permits. Click here to read more about Clean Air Zones.

Clean Air Zone checker

Will you be charged for entering a Clean Air Zone?

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:

ClassVehicle type
ABuses, coaches, taxis, private hire vehicles
BBuses, coaches, taxis, private hire vehicles
CBuses, coaches, taxis, private hire vehicles, heavy goods vehicles, vans, minibuses
DBuses, coaches, taxis, private hire vehicles, heavy goods vehicles, vans, minibuses, cars. The 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:

Bath Clean Air Zone proposed for 4 November

Roads through Bath

Bath council has submitted final plans for its proposed Clean Air Zone (CAZ) to central government for approval.

If approved the scheme will go live on Wednesday 4 November.

Bath’s CAZ covers an area surrounding the city centre, and has been several years in the planning. Under government definitions, it is a Class C Clean Air Zone.

Bath Clean Air Zone map

Under the proposals, the heaviest-emitting HGVs, buses and coaches will pay £100 a day to enter the Clean Air Zone. Non-compliant taxis, minibuses and vans will pay £100 a day.

However, cars and motorbikes will remain free to enter – regardless of their tailpipe emissions.

Councillor Dine Romer said: “Tackling pollution is a priority for us if we’re to improve people’s lives and address the climate emergency.

“This has been a complex process and I’m pleased that the final business case, going before government, strikes a balance for the city, its residents and businesses.”

Bath is obliged under UK legislation to introduce measures to tackle air pollution: several areas in the city exceed the UK legal limit for NOx emissions.

Around 12,000 people in the region suffer from asthma, which can be triggered by high levels of NOx.

As many as one in four new cases of asthma in children is caused by NOx, adds the council.

‘Deaf ears’

City of Bath

The Road Haulage Association (RHA) has criticised the plans, warning it puts firms at risk. Hauliers, it claims, typically make just £60 per truck per week so cannot absorb the £100 daily charges.

“We have put forward alternative solutions to improve air quality,” said RHA chief executive Richard Burnett, “but sadly these have fallen on deaf ears.

“We all want cleaner air and we will support practical plans which make it happen, but it cannot be at the expense of businesses priming the supply chain.”

The RHA points out that part of the zone takes in a section of the A36, a key freight route which bypasses the city.

Politicians want 30 Clean Air Zones across the UK

30 low emission zones proposed by leaders

Politicians across England have called for the government to support the establishment of 30 new Clean Air Zones.

This cross-party group has members from London, Birmingham, Manchester, Bristol, Cambridge, Leeds and other cities. It wants to see charges for most polluting vehicles entering the Clean Air Zones. 

An assessment from The Royal College of Physicians determined that pollution-related health problems cost £20 billion annually. Air pollution is thought to contribute to 36,000 deaths a year.

It’s also predicted by UK100, a network of local leaders, that areas adopting such zones could, short term, make £6.5 billion in revenue. 

30 low emission zones proposed by leaders

At present, six local authorities have plans to introduce Clean Air Zones. Some of the money raised would go towards supporting vehicle renewal schemes, to help poorer people and small businesses into low- and zero-emission vehicles.

“Cleaning up the air in our towns and cities makes sound economic sense and this study demonstrates that,” said Polly Billington, director of UK100.

“It will boost the health of our communities and save the NHS money. Sensible investment by national government is needed to support local authorities to take the most polluting vehicles off our roads while ensuring that the poorest in our towns and cities are not the hardest hit by pollution and measures to tackle it.”

London ULEZ: the results so far

30 low emission zones proposed by leaders

To predict how these zones might make a difference, we can look to London’s ULEZ. The Ultra Low Emission Zone was introduced in April this year. Results indicate a 25 percent reduction in the most polluting vehicles within the first four weeks of the ULEZ coming into effect.

“Air pollution is a national health crisis which is responsible for tens of thousands of premature deaths around the country and costs over £20 billion a year,” said Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London.

30 low emission zones proposed by leaders

“I have taken bold action to tackle lethal air in the capital with the Ultra Low Emission Zone, the first of the UK’s Clean Air Zones, which is already having a positive impact on reducing harmful emissions. But cities including London cannot deliver further Clean Air Zones without urgent government funding. This funding must include a new national vehicle renewal scheme, which would help businesses and residents prepare for London’s ULEZ expansion in 2021. 

“Everyone deserves the right to breathe clean air and the Chancellor simply cannot afford to delay immediate action on this invisible killer.”

What are Clean Air Zones and how will they affect you?

What are Clean Air ZonesA Clean Air Zone (CAZ) is defined as an area in which targeted action is being taken to improve air quality.

Designed for cities or specific areas within an urban location, 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.

The government’s vision for Clean Air Zones is:

“Clean Air Zones improve the urban environment to support public health and the local economy, making cities more attractive places to live, work, do business and spend leisure time. They support cities to grow and transition to a low emission economy thus ensuring these benefits are sustainable for the long term.”

There are two categories of Clean Air Zones: non-charging and charging.

Non-charging Clean Air Zones

These are geographic areas, normally city centres, used as a focus for action to improve air quality. The are various measures open to the local authority, but charging a fee for entry into the CAZ isn’t one of them.

Charging Clean Air Zones

These are zones where motorists are required to pay a fee to enter or move within an area if they are driving a vehicle that does not meet a particular Euro emissions standard.

Classes of Clean Air Zones

Clean Air Zone classes

There are four classes of Clean Air Zone, and a local authority can decide what level of restrictions to apply.

  • Class A: buses, coaches, taxis and private hire vehicles:
    • Buses and coaches: Euro 6
    • Taxis and private hire vehicles: Euro 6 (diesel) and Euro 4 (petrol)
  • Class B: buses, coaches, taxis, priviate hire vehicles and HGVs:
    • Buses, coaches and HGVs: Euro 6
    • Taxis and private hire vehicles: Euro 6 (diesel) and Euro 4 (petrol)
  • Class C: buses, coaches, taxis, private hire vehicles, HGVs and LGVs:
    • Buses, coaches and HGVs: Euro 6
    • Large vans, minibuses, LGVs, taxis and private hire vehicles: Euro 6 (diesel) and Euro 4 (petrol)
  • Class D: buses, coaches, taxis, private hire vehicles, HGVs, LGVs and cars:
    • Buses, coaches and HGVs: Euro 6
    • Large vans, minibuses, LGVs, cars, taxis and private hire vehicles: Euro 6 (diesel) and Euro 4 (petrol)
    • Motorcycles and mopeds (optional): Euro 3

This is just an overview of the different classes. For a more in-depth description, read the government’s framework.

Where are the Clean Air Zones?

The five cities required to introduce a CAZ by 2020 are Birmingham, Derby, Leeds, Nottingham and Southampton.

A further 23 local authorities must carry out a feasibility study to determine whether or not a CAZ is required.


Extinction Rebellion in Birmingham

The Birmingham Clean Air Zone was due to start in January 2020, but has been delayed until July at the earliest because of technological problems.

The government told Birmingham City Council that is must reduce levels of NO2 in the air to a maximum average of 40μg/m3 as soon as possible, before continuing to lower the amount of NO2 and particulate matter.

Non-compliant cars, taxis and LGVs will be subject to a daily charge of £8, rising to £50 per day for HGVs, coaches and buses.

Click here for more information on the Birmingham CAZ and how it affects you.


Derby City Council launched an eight-week publication consultation to select and refine its preferred option to address roadside NO2 air quality.

The council is proposing to introduce traffic management measures to manage the flow of traffic in and around Stafford Street, along with measures to encourage the early uptake of low emission vehicles.

Crucially, the proposal does not include a CAZ or any form of charging. Click here for more information


Leeds City Council will be introducing a CAZ, but ‘due to reasons beyond the council’s control,’ the launch has been delayed beyond 6 January 2020.

The proposed Clean Air Zone covers a wide area, but no vehicles will be banned from entering the zone. Instead, all non-compliant HGVs, buses, coaches, taxis and private hire vehicles will have to pay a daily fee. The costs range from £12.50 to £50.

Private motorists and LGVs will not be charged for driving into the CAZ.

Click here for more information on the Leeds CAZ and how it affects you.


No Clean Air Zone in Nottingham

A Clean Air Zone is no longer being considered in Nottingham.

Instead, Nottingham City Council is working on a series of measures designed to improve air quality, such as retrofitting buses with clean exhaust technology, requiring every taxi and private hire vehicle to be low-emissions, and replacing its own fleet with electric or other low emission vehicles.

Councillor Sally Longford, the portfolio holder for energy and environment, said: “Results of air quality modelling showed these measures will have a significant effect in reducing emissions, bringing Nottingham into compliance by 2020.

“Although we considered a Class B Clean Air Zone – which would have affected HGVs, buses and taxis – the actions we’re taking will have a positive impact across the whole city, rather than just in one area.


Southampton City Council introduced a non-charging Clean Air Zone in 2017. Earlier plans to introduce a charging CAZ were dropped in January 2019.

The council has introduced stricter new conditions for taxi operators in the city, with the first stage of changes coming into force on 1 January 2020. 

Councillor Steve Leggett, the cabinet member for green city and environment, said: “The need to take urgent, strong action against air pollution is essential. We know people living, working and visiting Southampton share our commitment to improving air quality and reducing pollution across the city.”

The council is also offering financial incentives to encourage taxi and private hire vehicles owners to upgrade to a low emission vehicle.

Other Clean Air Zones

Traffic in Bristol

In May, local authorities in the North East announced plans to introduce a Tyneside charging CAZ and a Low Emission Zone (LEZ) in Newcastle. The results of a public consultation will be announced later this year.

London’s Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) came into force in April 2019, with non-compliant vehicles charged £12.50 for entry into the city.

Bath is set to get a Clean Air Zone in 2021, with talks ongoing for a similar scheme in Bristol.

Sheffield City Council plans to introduce a Clean Air Zone in 2021, with polluting HGVs, buses, coaches, LGVs and taxis charged to enter the inner ring road and city centre.

A proposed CAZ in Manchester would cover all 10 local authority areas, with schemes also expected in Oxford, Cambridge, York and Bradford.

Scotland’s first Low Emission Zone came into force in December 2018, with Edinburgh, Dundee and Aberdeen likely to follow suit.

Clean Air Zones to become the norm?

With the government under pressure to improve air quality, other towns and cities are expected to introduce Clean Air Zones or their own interpretations of the schemes. In the future, paying a fee to enter an urban area might become the norm rather than the exception.

Dirty air is linked to 40,000 early deaths every year in the UK, with 70 percent of people urging the government to take action.

A report by a conservative think tank calls for VAT to be abolished on electric cars and for citizens to be able to report idling vehicles. It also says that local authorities should be allowed to make “reasonable profits” from Clean Air Zones to fund electric charging points, scrappage schemes for polluting vehicles, and public transport.

We will be updating this overview with a city-by-city guide to Clean Air Zones in the UK. Bookmark this page for later use.

Newcastle Clean Air Zone Consultation 2019

Newcastle and Gateshead Clean Air Zone could mean no more smog on the Tyne

Newcastle Clean Air Zone Consultation 2019A legal order to improve air quality could see motorists in in Tyneside hit with substantial fees to drive into the centres of Newcastle upon Tyne and Gateshead.

Increased levels of Nitrogen Dioxide and small particulate emissions have prompted Gateshead Council, Newcastle City Council, and North Tyneside Council to consider the drastic action.

Two possible solutions to combat air pollution, a Charging Clean Air Zone (CAZ) and an alternative Low Emission Zone with tolls (LEZ), would see certain categories of vehicles liable for daily penalty charges.

Tyneside charging Clean Air Zone

Newcastle Clean Air Zone Consultation 2019The Clean Air Zone option would see cars, vans, buses, and HGVs liable to charges to drive on roads in the centre of Newcastle and Gateshead. Key arterial routes, such as the A1058 Coast Road which stretches to neighbouring Wallsend, would also be included.

Suggested charges for HGVs, buses and coaches would be £50 per day, with private cars, vans and taxis paying £12.50 per day to access the included routes.

Vehicles meeting the latest emissions standards, such as EU6 diesel cars, would be exempt from having to pay the fees.

Newcastle Low Emission Zone

Newcastle Clean Air Zone Consultation 2019A smaller Low Emission Zone would limit the area included to just the centre of Newcastle Upon Tyne, using three of the areas iconic bridges as toll points.

Eligible vehicles crossing the Tyne, Swing, and Redheugh bridge would be liable for fees of £1.70 per journey for cars and vans, with £3.40 for HGVs.

A public consultation, which was extended until Sunday 19th May, aims to find the views of residents and business owners in the areas which would be most affected by the plans.

However, many residents have already expressed concerns at the high price of suggested fees, whilst bus operators have stated their opposal to the potential charge of £50 per day if the CAZ option is chosen.

The three local authorities will now review the consultation responses, before submitting a final scheme proposal to central government for approval later in 2019.  

Zero emission London bus

Government Clean Air Strategy will ‘improve air quality’

Zero emission London busEnvironment secretary Michael Gove will today launch a new Clean Air Strategy, which aims to cut deaths from air pollution. The plans are a key part of the government’s 25-year goal to leave the environment “in a better state than we found it”.  

Air pollution is Britain’s fourth biggest cause of premature death, after cancer, obesity and heart disease – claiming 50,000 lives each year. The European Commission is also taking the UK government to court for breaching EU air quality rules.

The finer details of the Clean Air Strategy have yet to be announced, but domestic fuels (such as log-burning stoves), ammonia emissions from farming and micro-plastics (from vehicle tyres and brakes) are top of the agenda. A ‘personal air quality messaging system’ is also proposed, to inform those living in polluted areas when to take extra precautions. 

The headline aim is to ‘halve the number of people living in locations where concentrations of particulate matter are above the World Health Organisation guideline limit of 10 ug/m3 by 2025’.

A “transport-shaped hole”

The plans have, however, already drawn criticism for not going far enough – and laws and restrictions around cars are at the core of the complaints. Greenpeace campaigner Paul Morozzo said: “There’s a transport-shaped hole in what we’ve seen of this strategy so far.”

Mr Morozzo continued: “To be a proper clean air strategy it would need concrete plans on clean air zones to tackle dangerous pollution from diesel cars, yet there’s no detail following the government’s latest ticking off from the High Court. Further, to achieve clean air in the UK we have to get diesel cars off our roads as fast as we can.” 

Green Party MP Caroline Lucas called the plans “underwhelming”, comparing them with “taking a water pistol to a wildfire”.

Michael Gove claimed air quality had “improved significantly since 2010”, but was still “making people ill, shortening lives and damaging our economy and environment”.

More details on the Clean Air Strategy will be announced later today, so check back for further updates.

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