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Everything You Need To Know About Clear Air Zone Charges

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In 2018, the Mayor of London announced a new initiative to help curb air pollution in some of the busiest areas of London. The Ultra Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ) rolled out with strict measures on vehicle emissions. Following the success of the scheme, we are now seeing an expansion of this initiative with the Clean Air Zone Charges.

Set to roll out in a few locations from 2021, this scheme will target older vehicles with high nitrogen oxide (NO2) emissions. Only non-compliant vehicles will have to pay the daily surcharge.

What are Clean Air Zones?

Clean Air Zones will target older vehicles that have not been retrofitted with technology recognised by the Clean Vehicle Retrofit Accreditation Scheme (CVRAS). Drivers will face an £8 charge per day for driving within the designated Clean Air Zone. Buses and HGVs will face a £50 fee.

There won’t be any toll booths or barriers to enter the area. Instead, automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) cameras will monitor which vehicles enter the area. If your vehicle incurs charges, you will be able to pay these online. Failure to pay could lead to a £120 fine under initial proposals.

Where are clean air zones rolling out first?

Bath, Birmingham and Leeds will be the first to trial the new scheme. In addition, London’s Ultra Low Emissions Zone will also be extended further north and south.

  • You can see the proposed Clean Air Zone for Bath here.
  • Birmingham’s zone will cover all roads within the A4540 Middleway Ring Road, but will not include the Middleway Ring Road.
  • In Leeds, the scheme is called the Clean Air Charging Zone. This clean air zone in Leeds can be found here.

Other schemes are planned for Southampton, Derby, Bristol, Sheffield and Greater Manchester. Although in the initial target cities, Nottingham City Council rejected the plans after revealing a way they could bring air pollution levels within the target range without charging drivers.

If you regularly drive in Bath, Birmingham, Leeds or London, you can use this vehicle checker to find out if you will be charged.

Who is exempt?

To make things more complicated, exemptions are managed on a national and local level. The following vehicles will be entitled to a national exemption. You will not have to pay a charge if you drive a:

  • Ultra low emission vehicle, such as an electric vehicle
  • Disabled passenger tax class vehicle
  • Military vehicle
  • Historic vehicle
  • Vehicle with retrofitted technology recognised by the Clean Vehicle Retrofit Accreditation Scheme (CVRAS)

Local exemptions will be managed by individual city councils. For example, in Birmingham, there are further exemptions available. These include a one-year exemption for commercial vehicles registered within the zone. This will be valid for up to two vehicles per company. Commercial vehicles registered in Birmingham and travelling into the zone will also be exempt from charges for one year if there is an “existing finance agreement beyond 2020”.

What will this mean for businesses?

It’s not yet clear how many vehicles will be affected. In Birmingham, of the 200,000 vehicles which pass through the city every day, around 60% will be affected by the changes. While private drivers might think twice about driving into the zone, commercial vehicles often don’t have a choice.

In the short term, businesses could face increased operating costs to continue travelling within the zones. In the long term, businesses may need to upgrade vehicles and adopt more ultra low emissions vehicles. At Compact Electric Vehicles, we are paving the way for more companies to make the switch to electric vehicles.

We could soon see Clean Air Zones rolling out across more cities in the UK, so now is the time to act. Switching to low emission electric vehicles could save your company from long-term emission charges, in addition to lowering daily operating costs. To find out how much you could save by switching to electric vehicles, get in touch today..

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