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A CAZ near you? A guide to seven cities planning to introduce vehicle emission tax zones for drivers


Drivers of older cars across Britain will soon have to come to terms with the concept of emissions tax zones in the most polluted cities.

Under government orders, councils have been told to curb their air pollution levels – and to do so, they should rid their roads of the dirtiest vehicles.

Birmingham this week became the first UK city to introduce a charging zone for car drivers outside London, with its new Clean Air Zone (CAZ) demanding an £8 payment each time a user of a non-compliant vehicle enters the boundary around the city centre.

And it’s not the only metropolis that’s going to be demanding such levies from drivers. Some 14 in total will or plan to introduce similar zones for motorised vehicles – seven of them being live before the end of this year (though not all will hit the pockets of car users). Here’s a guide to each one and when they are expected to launch.   

The capital's Ultra Low Emission Zone has been enforced in Central London since April 2019. However, from October this year it will be expanded to cover much of the city, with some 140,000 people said to own cars that are not compliant and face £12.50 daily charges

The capital’s Ultra Low Emission Zone has been enforced in Central London since April 2019. However, from October this year it will be expanded to cover much of the city, with some 140,000 people said to own cars that are not compliant and face £12.50 daily charges

LONDON – Introduced and due to be extended on 25 October 2021

What is it: Ultra Low Emission Zone charging older petrol and diesel vehicles in the capital 

When is it going to be introduced: Currently enforced in the Congestion Charge Zone but expanded to inner London from 25 October 2021

Vehicles charged: Buses, coaches, taxis (registered black cabs exempt), private hire vehicles (PHVs), heavy goods vehicles (HGVs), light goods vehicles (LGVs) and car drivers

Cost to car drivers:  £12.50 daily charge if a diesel car isn’t Euro 6 or petrol isn’t at least Euro 4

The capital’s Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) has been enforced within the limits of the Congestion Charge Zone (CCZ) since 8 April 2019, with drivers of diesel cars not adhering to Euro 6 emissions standards (generally registered from 2016) and petrols failing to meet Euro 4 (generally registered from 2006) having to stump up £12.50 a day to enter the zone. 

That’s on top of the £11.50 a day for the CCZ, taking the current total for entering central London to £24 if you don’t have the right motor.

ULEZ is operational 24 hours a day, 365 days a week and is a daily charge. That means if you enter the zone at 23:00 and leave at 02:00, you will need to pay twice (£25). 

It is enforced by Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) cameras on the outskirts of the zones and failed payment within 24 hours of entering the zone will result in fines of £160 (halved to £80 if paid within two weeks).    

And in a matter of months the zone area is going to get larger – much larger, in fact.

The orange area shows the current ULEZ limit. The much larger yellow section shows the widespread coverage of inner London once the zone is extended on 25 October

The orange area shows the current ULEZ limit. The much larger yellow section shows the widespread coverage of inner London once the zone is extended on 25 October

The ULEZ is set to be extended on 25 October 2021 to cover the hugely-populated area within the A406 North Circular and A205 South Circular roads – and there is no resident discount available.

TfL estimates that 140,000 vehicles driven in the city every day will be stung by its ULEZ tax and means those using older cars on a regular basis will see their annual motoring bills go through the roof unless they swap it for a greener model. 

Is your car CAZ, LEZ, ULEZ and ZEZ compliant? 

Knowing your car’s Euro emissions rating is more important than ever, given the increasing number of levies and fines being introduced for older cars, especially diesels. 

Most Clean Air, Low Emission and Ultra Low Emission Zones being – or already – implemented impact pre-Euro 4 emissions petrol and pre-Euro 6 emission diesel cars.

It’s worth checking online (or via your car’s V5/V5C logbook at the bottom of Page 2 in the section entitled ‘Exhaust Emissions’) to see which category your models falls into, though it roughly will be designated by when it was first registered, as listed below:

Euro 1 – from 31 December 1992

Euro 2 – from 1 January 1997

Euro 3 – from 1 January 2001

Euro 4 – from 1 January 2006 (common minimum standard for petrol cars)

Euro 5 – from 1 January 2011

Euro 6 – from 1 September 2015 (common minimum standard for diesel cars)

Driving a non-compliant car just once a week will rack up an annual bill of £650 – more than many drivers pay for insurance and road tax combined. Using an ineligible car five days a week will hammer drivers with a £3,250 bill per annum.

A report commissioned by City Hall predicts that the ULEZ expansion could see almost 300,000 fewer people developing chronic diseases, such as asthma and type-2 diabetes, than otherwise expected by 2050. 

However, the scheme has been slammed by commentators for pricing the lowest-income families in the capital off the road. 

Meanwhile, those driving new gas-guzzling luxury SUVs, such as a BMW X7, Range Rover, or Bentley Bentayga will not be charged. 

A scrappage scheme is being offered as an ‘incentive’ to ditch an older car and replace it with a ULEZ-compliant model, though the £2,000 offer will barely make the latest greener vehicles accessible to the most hard-up Londoners who rely on their cars for commuting, the school run and everyday errands. 

Transport for London has told This is Money that just over 4,500 vehicles have been scrapped as part of the ULEZ car and motorcycle scheme to date and around 5,000 vans scrapped through the van scrappage scheme. 

A spokesperson told us this has helped improve ULEZ compliance, with 80 per cent of all cars owned by people living within the soon-to-be-expanded zone’s borders now meeting the emissions standards. 

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So far, £43.8million of a £52million pot of funding for the scrappage scheme has been paid out, meaning just £8.2million remains with just four months until the ULEZ extension kicks in. That’s enough to help just 4,100 motorists scrap their existing cars and use the £2,000 fee to buy a zone-compliant vehicle. 

TfL says applications will be accepted for as long as funds are available, though it is unlikely that any further incentives will be offered once this pot runs dry. 

Bath's Clean Air Zone is designed to reduce air pollution in the centre of the city, though only by predominantly targeting buses and HGVs

Bath’s Clean Air Zone is designed to reduce air pollution in the centre of the city, though only by predominantly targeting buses and HGVs

Bath is the first city in England to introduce a Clean Air Zone outside of London - though it currently doesn't impact car drivers

Bath is the first city in England to introduce a Clean Air Zone outside of London – though it currently doesn’t impact car drivers

BATH – Introduced

What is it: Class C Clean Air Zone. The first emissions tax introduced outside of London – but does not charge car drivers

When is it going to be introduced: In force since 15 March 2021

Vehicles charged:  Buses, coaches, taxis, PHVs, HGVs and LGVs

Cost to car drivers:  Zero 

The first CAZ in England outside of London launched on 15 March this year and demand the highest daily payments from drivers of buses and lorries that enter the centre of Bath – but private cars and motorbikes are exempt from the scheme, for now.

Types of Clean Air Zone 

CAZ A – Buses, coaches, taxis and private hire vehicles (PHVs)

CAZ B – Buses, coaches, taxis, PHVs and heavy goods vehicles (HGVs)

CAZ C – Buses, coaches, taxis, PHVs, HGVs and light goods vehicles (LGVs)

CAZ D – Buses, coaches, taxis, PHVs, HGVs LGVs and cars

Bath and North East Somerset Council said the move could cut its air pollution to below legal levels by the end of 2021.  

Drivers of high-emission commercial vans are forced to pay a £9 fee and HGVs and buses £100. Private hire vehicles and taxis also have to pay £9 per day.

ANPR cameras are installed on all roads leading into the zone, and vehicle number plates will be checked against a DVLA database to make sure the area is enforced. 

Motorists with non-compliant, chargeable vehicles – including those from outside the UK – must declare and pay for their journey online or they will receive a penalty charge notice.

There are currently no plans for passenger cars and vans to face the daily charge.

BIRMINGHAM – Introduced (but charging delayed to 14 June 2021)

What is it: Class D Clean Air Zone charging drivers of older petrol and diesel cars to enter the limits of the city ring road

When is it going to be introduced: 1 June 2021, though charging will not start until 14 June 2021

Vehicles charged: Buses, coaches, taxis, PHVs, HGVs LGVs and car drivers 

Cost to car drivers:  £8 daily charge if a diesel car isn’t Euro 6 or petrol isn’t at least Euro 4

Birmingham’s CAZ D is Britain’s first pollution-related tax on drivers of passenger cars outside the capital. 

It was initially due to have come into force overnight on Tuesday (1 June) but Birmingham City Council announced later that morning that it would ‘soft launch’ the scheme, with charging delayed for a fortnight.

This was reportedly due to the lack of local understanding and knowledge of the zone being introduced, which resulted in floods of complaints from motorists driving into the West Midlands city on the first day of operation. 

Enforcement of charges will now begin on June 14, with one city councillor admitting: ‘We understand that not everybody in the city, despite all our extensive conversations, is aware of this particular project.’

The council-backed levy is expected to affect around a quarter of all cars on the city’s roads, according to the AA. 

The scheme will operate 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. It means a driver who enters the zone at 11pm and leaves after midnight will have to pay the charge twice

Birmingham City Council has estimated that a quarter of cars used in the city are non-compliant with the scheme

The scheme will operate 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. It means a driver who enters the zone at 11pm and leaves after midnight will have to pay the charge twice

All drivers of pre-Euro 4 petrol and pre-Euro 6 diesel cars will face a daily charge of £8 to drive within the limits of the A4540 Middleway Ring Road in the West Midlands city

All drivers of pre-Euro 4 petrol and pre-Euro 6 diesel cars will face a daily charge of £8 to drive within the limits of the A4540 Middleway Ring Road in the West Midlands city

All drivers of pre-Euro 4 petrol and pre-Euro 6 diesel cars will be stung with a daily charge of £8 to drive within the limits of the A4540 Middleway Ring Road.

The daily fee should be paid online and there is also a government-funded Clean Air Zone team you can call on 0300 029 8888 for assistance.

There is an allocated 13-day payment window for the scheme, so you can either pay six days before the day you use your non-compliant vehicle in the CAZ, on the same day you enter the zone, or up to six days after (up to 11.59 hours on the sixth day) you drove into the restriction.

The scheme will operate 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and be policed by ANPR cameras. It means a driver who enters the zone at 11pm and leaves after midnight will have to pay the charge twice.

Those with ineligible vehicles who fail to stump up the daily amount will be slapped with a fine of £120 (reduced to £60 if paid within a fortnight).  

Read the reaction from drivers in Birmingham on the first day of the CAZ coming into force. 

OXFORD – Due August 2021

What is it: First Zero Emission Zone (ZEZ) to be piloted that charges all but electric vehicles to enter eight city centre streets

When is it going to be introduced: Pilot scheme due to go live in August 2021

Vehicles charged:  All drivers of vehicles with petrol, diesel or hybrid vehicles

Cost to car drivers:  £2 – £10 daily charge

Oxford City Council and Oxfordshire County Council are set to introduce Britain’s first Zero Emission Zone (ZEZ) in the city centre in a matter of months.

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The plans have been approved for the zone to cover eight streets only: Bonn Square; Queen Street; Cornmarket; part of Market Street; Ship Street; St Michael’s Street; New Inn Hall Street; and Shoe Lane. 

These are the seven streets where the Oxford ZEZ will be first piloted under plans due to go lives in August

These are the seven streets where the Oxford ZEZ will be first piloted under plans due to go lives in August

Vehicles used in the zone would be subject to charges, depending on their emissions.

Zero-emission vehicles will escape any fee, while drivers of ultra-low emission hybrid cars (producing less than 75g/km CO2) will be charged £2 per fay from August 2021, rising to £4 daily from August 2025.

Drivers of petrol cars meeting at least Euro 4 standards and the latest Euro 6 diesels will pay £4 per day from August 2021, rising to £8 per day from August 2025, while any motors older than that will have to fork out £10 daily from August this year – and a massive £20 a day from August 2025, under the current plans.

The charging zone isn’t 24-hour operational, running between 7am and 7pm, and there are intended discounts and exemptions for some road users, including disabled motorists, residents and businesses operating from inside the zone. 

Bristol will be the second city after Birmingham to begin charging drivers of older cars to enter a clean air zone

Bristol will be the second city after Birmingham to begin charging drivers of older cars to enter a clean air zone

BRISTOL – Due 29 October 2021

What is it: Class D Clean Air Zone charging drivers of older passenger cars who travel in the zone

When is it going to be introduced: 29 October 2021

Vehicles charged:  Buses, coaches, taxis, PHVs, HGVs LGVs and car drivers

Cost to car drivers:  £9 daily charge if a diesel car isn’t Euro 6 or petrol isn’t at least Euro 4

Motorists using any of the roads marked in the blue area of this map of Bristol driving a CAZ non-compliant passenger car will be charged £9 a day from October 2021

Motorists using any of the roads marked in the blue area of this map of Bristol driving a CAZ non-compliant passenger car will be charged £9 a day from October 2021 

Bristol’s Clean Air Zone follows a similar pattern to other big cities: a predefined zone limit in the city centre; a 24-hour charging period that’s operational seven days a week, 365 days a year; and only the latest and cleanest passenger cars are exempt from the charge. 

No vehicles are banned from entering Bristol’s Clean Air Zone, but drivers of diesels cars failing to meet Euro 6 standards and petrols not adhering to at least Euro 4 will have to pay £9 each time they enter the boundaries.

Bristol City Council estimates that over 71 per cent of vehicles travelling in and out of the zone on a daily basis are compliant with the restrictions. Drivers who live within the limits of the CAZ will have to pay up each time they make a journey in their non-compliant vehicle.

There’ll be exemptions only for those who earn less than £24,000 a year, and no more than £12.45 per hour – but they will only be able to apply for one year’s exemption. Hospital visitors will also escape the charge.

Other larger vehicle – including HGVs, buses and coaches – will be charged £100 for each day they enter the zone.

If a vehicle has to travel into the CAZ because of an official diversion from a road outside the zone, for example the M5, the vehicle will not be charged, the council says.

Portsmouth's plans for a clean air zone cover a 3km-squared area, mostly to tackle emissions from traffic coming through the city to reach its ports

Portsmouth’s plans for a clean air zone cover a 3km-squared area, mostly to tackle emissions from traffic coming through the city to reach its ports

PORTSMOUTH – Due ‘before the end of 2021’

What is it: Class B Clean Air Zone in Portsmouth – but does not charge car drivers

When is it going to be introduced: November 2021

Vehicles charged:  Buses, coaches, taxis, PHVs and HGVs

Cost to car drivers: Zero

The charging CAZ in Portsmouth is approximately three kilometres square and will tackle incoming traffic.

Private cars, motorcycles and vans will not be charged, though older polluting HGVs, buses and coaches will pay £50 per day to travel through the zone – and non-compliant taxis and private hire vehicles will pay £10 per day. 

Portsmouth City Council has confirmed that it has received £6.6million in funding from the government to setup the zone.

Some of those funds will be used between April and September 2021 to install ANPR cameras at 39 locations on roads within the CAZ, allowing for the scheme to be enforced from the end of this year.

A portion of the money will also be used to add public electric vehicle charge points around the city. 

This is the proposed boundary for a clean air zone covering Newcastle's city centre

This is the proposed boundary for a clean air zone covering Newcastle’s city centre

NEWCASTLE – Due 2021

What is it: Class C Clean Air Zone in Newcastle city centre but also Gateshead and North Tyneside – but not charge car drivers

When is it going to be introduced: 2021 

Vehicles charged:  Buses, coaches, taxis, PHVs, HGVs and LGVs

Cost to motorists with non-compliant cars:  Zero 

A legal case regarding the installation of ANPR cameras needed for a CAZ to function prevented Newcastle from introducing its zone in January 2021, with delays pushing back plans for the scheme to go live to later this year.  

Proposals are for a scheme where older buses, coaches, and lorries would face £50 daily tolls while vans and taxis  that don’t meet the emissions standard required would be charged £12.50 each time they enter the zone’s boundaries.

Private cars will be exempt from the charge.

BRADFORD – Due January 2022

What is it: Class C Clean Air Zone – but does not charge car drivers

When is it going to be introduced: 5 January 2022

Vehicles charged: Buses, coaches, taxis, PHVs, HGVs and LGVs

Cost to car drivers: Zero

This is the Clean Air Zone boundary planned for Bradford

This is the Clean Air Zone boundary planned for Bradford

While neighbouring Leeds – along with Leicester and Sheffield – have recently scrapped their plans to introduce clean air zones – mainly due to the fall in air pollution levels and traffic dropped during the pandemic – Bradford still intends to go ahead with its own version.

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The proposed Bradford Clean Air Zone would cover the city centre, Canal Road corridor, Shipley and Saltaire where pollution is highest. However, it won’t sting passenger car drivers or motorcyclists.

Instead, the zone will only charge HGVs, LGVs, buses, coaches and private hire vehicles, with daily rate being as high as £50 for non-compliant vehicles.

There will be a ‘comprehensive programme’ of grants and exemptions to help local businesses get ready for the CAZ and to help upgrade some non-compliant vehicles, says the local council. 

ABERDEEN, DUNDEE, EDINBURGH AND GLASGOW – Due February 2022 

What is it: Low Emission Zones banning older petrol and diesel vehicles

When is it going to be introduced: Between February and May 2022 

Vehicles charged: Buses, coaches, taxis, PHVs, HGVs LGVs and car drivers 

Cost to car drivers:  Penalty Charge Notice of £60 (reduced by 50% if paid within 2 weeks) for non-compliant cars  

The four biggest Scottish cities – Dundee, Edinburgh and Glasgow – are currently subject to plans being drawn up for Low Emission Zones (LEZ), which could be enforced from next year.

A LEZ Leadership Group, made up of Transport Secretary Michael Matheson, Climate Change Secretary Roseanna Cunningham and representatives from the four city councils, are currently ironing out regulatory steps required for the Scottish Government and each local authority to introduce zones to restrict the use of older, polluting vehicles. 

Sign designating the boundary of Glasgow's Low Emission Zone (LEZ) were erected in 2019, though it is unlikely to go live until the middle of 2022

Sign designating the boundary of Glasgow’s Low Emission Zone (LEZ) were erected in 2019, though it is unlikely to go live until the middle of 2022

Once legislation is in place, local councils will be given the freedom to adapt their own versions of a LEZ in order to meeting their air pollution targets.

Each LEZ is likely to be in the city centre. It could see a ban on vehicles that fail to meet the minimum required emission standards – likely to be Euro 6 for diesel cars and Euro 4 for petrols. The restriction will also impact diesel-powered Euro VI HGVs and buses.

These LEZs will differ to the aforementioned zones as non-compliant vehicles will be banned entirely, rather than charged a fee.

Instead of being able to pay a non-compliance charge, the LEZ will see owners of ineligible motors issued with a Penalty Charge Notice.  

The initial penalty charge for all non-compliant vehicles is set at £60, reduced by 50 per cent if it is paid within a fortnight.

A surcharge is also proposed whereby the penalty amount doubles with each subsequent breach of the rules detected in the same LEZ. The penalty charges are capped at £480 for cars and light goods vehicles and £960 for buses and HGVs.

After 90 days of last breaching the rules, the surcharge rate will be reset. 

The Scottish LEZs will operate continuously, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, all year round, and be enforced by Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) cameras linked to a national vehicle licencing database.

They will likely involve grace periods for commercial fleet operators and private vehicle owners to give them time to prepare for its implementation.

Some non-compliant vehicles will be allowed to use the zones without being issued a PCN. These include: police vehicles; ambulance and emergency vehicles; Scottish Fire and Rescue; Her Majesty’s Coastguard; National Crime Agency; Military vehicles; Vehicles for disabled persons (including blue badge holders); Showman’s vehicles.

‘Historic vehicles’ will also be exempt – likely classic cars over 40 years of age. 

A joint CAZ C for Greater Manchester would cover all or parts of Bolton, Bury, Oldham, Rochdale, Stockport, Tameside, Trafford, Wigan and the cities of Manchester and Salford to cut air pollution in those areas

A joint CAZ C for Greater Manchester would cover all or parts of Bolton, Bury, Oldham, Rochdale, Stockport, Tameside, Trafford, Wigan and the cities of Manchester and Salford to cut air pollution in those areas

MANCHESTER – Due spring 2022

What is it: Class C Clean Air Zone – but does not charge car drivers

 When is it going to be introduced: Proposed for 2022

Vehicles charged: Buses, coaches, taxis, PHVs, HGVs and LGVs

Cost to car drivers: Zero

As part of the Greater Manchester Clean Air Plan, a joint charging clean air zone has been proposed to cover all or parts of Bolton, Bury, Oldham, Rochdale, Stockport, Tameside, Trafford, Wigan and the cities of Manchester and Salford to cover most of the whole of Greater Manchester.  

The zone would not affect private cars and would need to be in place by spring 2022 in order for the area to meet air pollution reduction targets by 2024.

In order to help encourage commercial drivers to switch to cleaner vehicles before the zone comes into force, local leaders are asking for a £150million package – including £10million for businesses impacted by the economic impacts of the daily charges – to support those affected. 

LIVERPOOL – Due 2022/2023

What is it: Clean Air Zone (CAZ class unconfirmed)

When is it going to be introduced: Proposed for financial year 2022-23

Vehicles charged:  Unconfirmed

Cost to car drivers:  Unconfirmed

Currently, Liverpool Council is preparing to launch a public consultation on the creation of a Clean Air Zone to improve air quality in the city – and in its latest report claims it is ‘highly likely’ it will be a charging zone for vehicles entering the city centre that fail to meet emissions standards – likely Euro 6 for diesel and Euro 4 for petrol, as is the case for most inner-city pollution taxes on motorists. 

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