March 03, 2020

UK Clean Air Zones – Everything you need to know


Following the lead of London with the ULEZ, more UK cities are going to bring in Low Emission Zones in an attempt to tackle the issue of poor air quality, Vansdirect take a look at all of the Low Emission Zones in the UK, including those already in place and those set for the near future, keep an eye out for your city below!

Low Emission Zones

Low Emission Zones are schemes which cover specific areas (primarily in cities), which discourage certain types of vehicles from entering a specified zone, with the aim of tackling pollution in the area. This typically means a charge for the vehicle should it not meet a minimum emissions standard for entering this zone. Low Emission Zones do not actually prohibit higher emission vans and cars from entering the zone, however daily charges to enter the zone are in place and failure to pay these charges could result in heavy financial penalties.

Where are the UK’s Low Emission Zones?

Low Emission Zone in place


The most heavily publicised and by far the largest of its kind in the UK, the London Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) replaced the T-Charge on 8th April 2019 and operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, every day of the year (except Christmas Day) within the same area as the Congestion Charge zone.

The £12.50 a day charge zone (most vehicles) is set to expand to the boundaries of the North and South Circular roads by October 2021, should Sadiq Khan be re-elected in May. To avoid the charge for driving in this zone your van has to have minimum emissions standards of Euro 6 for diesel vans and Euro4 for petrol vans.


Coming Soon


Clean Air Zone

It is expected that Birmingham will be the next UK city to introduce a clean air zone, the zone will cover all of the roads within the A4540 Middleway Ring Road, but not the Middleway itself. Like the London ULEZ, the Birmingham Clean Air Zone will operate 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. It is expected that the Birmingham Clean Air Zone will come into force during summer 2020.


Another city set to introduce a clean air zone in 2020 is Leeds, it was originally planned for January 2020, however there is expected to be a new launch date soon, also potentially in summer 2020, however private motorists and light goods vehicles will not be charged for driving in the zone. Instead non-compliant heavy goods vehicles, buses, coaches, taxis and private hire vehicles that do not meet emissions standards will be charged for driving in the zone


Proposals for a Class B (trucks, buses, taxis and coaches) charging clean air zone have been approved for Bath city centre by the end of 2020. A Class D clean air zone (same as Class B but including vans and cars) was originally planned, however these plans were dropped after a record number of responses to its consultation.


Bristol City Council are proposing a ban on diesel vehicles (affecting only private vehicles) in combination with a clean air zone charge. This proposal would see all diesel vehicles banned from a small area in the city centre of Bristol and a larger charging zone for older less efficient commercial vehicles including taxis and buses. A scrappage scheme for older diesel vehicles would be launched. If these proposals are approved by the council’s cabinet, then the changes will be introduced in March 2021.


Oxford is set to be the first UK city to introduce a Zero Emission Zone, charging all petrol and diesel vehicles which enter its city centre. The proposals outline a red zone which covers a small part of the city centre and is due to start from December 2020, there’s also a green zone which covers the remainder of the city centre in 2021/2022 which would offer discounted charges for those vehicles which comply with the London ULEZ standards. The red zone is set to be enforced between 7am-7pm, with a £10 charge for non-compliant vehicles entering the zone.


Sheffield has a clean air zone planned for early 2021 and whilst there are no plans to charge private cars, the most polluting buses, taxis, lorries and vans. Proposed charges are £50 a day for buses, coaches and HGVs and £10 a day for taxis, private hire vehicles and vans.


Final proposals are in place for a clean air zone in Newcastle city centre which will affect buses, coaches, lorries, taxis and vans. Private cars will not be affected. Non-compliant HGV’s, coaches and buses will be charged £50 whilst taxis and vans will be charged £12.50. Alongside the charges the council also plans to reduce traffic flow on the Tyne Bridge to one lane in each direction. The zone is expected to come into force in 2021.


A clean air zone for buses and taxis has been proposed for York this year, which will target an area within York’s inner ring road and city centre. It will limit how frequently buses can enter the zone based on the emissions performance of the bus.


A clean air zone is expected in summer 2021, further details of this are still yet to be confirmed, private vehicles are set to be exempt.
Further plans are in place for Cambridge, Coventry and Liverpool, whilst Warrington, St Albans, and Wokingham are currently under consideration.

Keep an eye on this page for clean air zone updates as and when they happen.

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