However, with these zones still being a relitively new concept, you can be forgiven for not knowing how they work or what charges you can face if you get caught driving a non-compliant car in one.
What is a Clean Air Zone?
The aim of a CAZ is to improve air quality in an area by only allowing the cleanest vehicles to drive in them.
The rules in each zone differs, but generally they are in operation 24/7 and will enforce fines through a network of Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) cameras. There will be some discounts and exemptions to these fines depending on your vehicle and situation, which can be checked on the local authority site.
The Government has also created a helpful vehicle checker tool, so you can see what you'd need to pay if you travelled through a CAZ with a non-compliant vehicle, which you can view here.
Types of Clean Air Zones
There are four categories; A B, C and D, which can give charges on the following vehicles:
Category A: Buses, Coaches, Taxis, Private Hire Vehicles
Category B: Buses, Coaches, Taxis, Private Hire Vehicles, Heavy Goods Vehicles
Category C: Buses, Coaches, Taxis, Private Hire Vehicles, Heavy Goods Vehicles, Light Commercial Vehicles
Category D: Buses, Coaches, Taxis, Private Hire Vehicles, Heavy Goods Vehicles, Light Commercial Vehicles, Cars
Each vehicle has a minimum emission standard that needs to be met in order to avoid being charged. For buses, coaches and heavy goods vehicles the standard is Euro VI. For vans, minibuses, taxis, private hire vehicles and cars the standard is Euro 6 (diesel) and Euro 4 (petrol). For motorcycles the standard is Euro 3.
Standards, timings and charges will differ between zones so it is recommended that you check online with the local authority before making trips into these areas.
In 2019, an Ultra Low Emission Zone was set up in central London which operates 24/7, except for Christmas Day.
The current charge for non-compliant cars, motorcycles and vans is £12.50 per day and £100 for heavier vehicles such as lorries. These charges are payable in addition to the weekday Congestion Charge and Low Emission Zone charge.
On the 25th October 2021, the ULEZ will expand from just central London to cover a larger area, that stretches between the North Circular Road (A406) and South Circular Road (A205).
The future of Clean Air zones
Clean Air zones have been a success so far and as a result there are many plans to introduce more.
On top of the London ULEZ expansion; Bristol, Bradford, Portsmouth, Newcastle, Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Manchester (to name a few) all look set to adopt a form of CAZ by this time next year.
Along with the 2030 ban on new ICE cars, Clean Air Zones will no doubt encourage more people to make the switch to electric in the next few years.
Looking to lease an electric car?
Click the button below to see our special offers.