Update on the UK’s Clean Air Zones (CAZ)

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What is a ‘Clean Air Zone’ (CAZ)

A Clean Air Zone is an area where action is required to improve the air quality to ensure they meet the legal limit. This is usually done by discouraging highly polluting vehicles from entering the area, such as buses and lorries.

The initiatives do not involve banning vehicles from entering certain locations, however, they enforce a daily charge for those that do not have clean enough engines.

History of Clear Air Zones

The first Clean Air Zone was launched in London in April 2019, called the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ). Vehicles charged for entering the zone include:

  • £12.50 for private cars, vans, motorcycles and mopeds
  • £12.50 for taxis
  • £100 for buses, coaches and HGVs

The ULEZ is scheduled to be expanded on 25th October 2021 to include inner London area bounded by the North and South Circular Roads.

Originally, the Government mandated five cities across the UK which needed to introduce a CAZ before the end of 2021, these cities include:

  • Birmingham
  • Derby
  • Leeds
  • Nottingham
  • Southampton

However, three of these cities quickly proposed other methods of increasing air quality without the need for a CAZ. These were Derby, Nottingham, and Southampton.

Furthermore, several other cities have been told they need to consider a CAZ or find alternative methods to reduce pollution.

The Impact Coronavirus has had on CAZ’s

The current global pandemic has hit just about every aspect of life, and this includes the proposed Clean Air Zones. Below are the updates from the two remaining cities originally mandated to implement a CAZ.


The Clean Air Zone in Birmingham has been delayed due to a few factors, including issues with the vehicle-checking software and the economic impact of coronavirus. The zone is a priority, with the cities air pollution contributing to around 900 deaths a year. Consequently, the zone will apply to about 25% of vehicles on the city’s roads.

Birmingham Clean Air Zone

(Image credit: Birmingham City Council)

The new launch date for the Clean Air Zone is scheduled to be at the start of June 2021. Hopefully, there is not going to be any further delays, however, with the current pandemic uncertainties, these cannot be written out.


One of the only benefits to come out of the pandemic is there has been less traffic on the roads. This has meant the quality of air in several areas has gone up, including Leeds.

After a joint review with the government, the CAZ scheme is no longer required. The council claim this is not due to the pandemic but is in fact down to the majority of buses and HGVs coming into the city use cleaner engines.

Leeds Clean Air Zone

The council had already spent over £11million on the scheme, mostly on grants for taxi drivers, bus operators and companies with HGVs to change to cleaner vehicles.

Whatever the cause of the reduced pollutions, it is positive to see an area no longer requiring a CAZ to meet the legal limits. On the other hand, we believe promoting environmentally-friendly vehicles should be the way forward and that Leeds should look at other ways to encourage drivers to make the switch.

Other Clean Air Zones


Bath Council have been looking to implement their Clean Air Zone for a while. Finally, it is scheduled to be launched on Monday 15th March 2021. It will be the first CAZ which will charge vehicles, who do not meet the necessary emissions standard, for entering the city.

The Caz was originally due to launch in November this year, however, due to the pandemic, it had been delayed. The scheme means it will be the first city outside of London to implement a charging Clean Air Zone.

The city is offering grants to help companies and drivers switch over to greener alternatives.

Greater Manchester

The Government have instructed the Greater Manchester Combined Authority to implement a CAZ across the city-region by Spring 2022. The scheme is aimed at bringing Greater Manchester’s Nitrogen Dioxide levels within the legal limits.

Quite a few of the places included in the Clean Air Zone have seen their air quality increase due to the lockdown brought on by the pandemic. As a result, it will be interesting to see how this affects the proposal.

As of the 14th October, the proposal is in the consultation period, giving residents and businesses a chance to give their say. The consultation period will run until 3rd December 2020. We are sure there will be more information on how the CAZ will work.


A Clean Air Zone in Newcastle is currently scheduled to come into force in January 2021. However, the Tyneside council is currently being pressured to provide an update, as we have several other CAZs delated due to the pandemic.

The city has seen a drop in pollution levels, but with less than three months to go, it is unclear what approach will be taken.


York became the first city in the UK to introduce a voluntary CAZ. The Clean Air Zone will launch in January and will only apply to buses at first, with vans and HGVs potentially added to the restrictions in the future.

It is a positive sign to see cities voluntarily looking to implement greener policies for their air quality. Hopefully, more cities will follow suit.

Clean Air Zones have been proven to help improve air quality and quality of life. As a result, we firmly believe every city should be considering implementing them.

Being able to offer grants and other schemes to help drivers and companies transition to hybrid or electric vehicles. This will vastly speed up the UK’s carbon footprint promise.

We hope to see more locations in the future embracing Clean Air Zones, and even Zero Emission Zones.

Finally, if you are looking to transition over to electric vehicles get in touch with one of our team today, who will be more than happy to help.