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As Bradford launches a CAZ, what are the different grades of Clean Air Zones?

 Published 25th July 2022
General Guides  Low Emission Vehicles 

In a bid to tackle local air pollution, Bradford City Council has launched a Clean Air Zone (CAZ).

The move comes after the local authority had been tasked by the UK government to improve air quality in the shortest possible time as nitrogen dioxide levels monitored in the area were exceeding legal limits.

Air quality problems account for significant health risks, particularly prevalent in urban areas, with vehicles causing significant amounts of this pollution. Bradford City Council has calculated that by implementing a CAZ in the region, nitrogen dioxide levels will fall within legal limits five years sooner than without the zone in force.

What level CAZ has Bradford implemented?

Bradford's council will roll out a CAZ C+ level zone from 26 September 2022. This will cover the area up to and including the Bradford outer ring road and extend along a corridor along the Aire valley to Shipley and Saltaire. As with all CAZ areas, the zone will be clearly signposted along every approach and at the outer edge of the restricted zone.

A C+ CAZ means that there will be charges for all non-compliant vehicles to enter the zone, with the exception of passenger cars. Other vehicles, including private hire vehicles, vans, buses and lorries will all be charged should they not meet emissions requirements. However, there will be no banning of vehicles on the grounds of emissions levels.

Hackney carriage and private hire vehicles will be charged £7 on entering the zone, minibuses and LGVs £9, while HGVs, coaches, and buses will be charged £50.

All vehicles need to meet Euro 6 emissions levels for diesels, and Euro 4 or above for petrol taxis, private hire vehicles, and LGVs.

Bristol set for launch in November

Two months after Bradford's CAZ comes into force, with Euro 4 and above petrol engines compliant, as well as Euro 6 diesel engines. Businesses and residents will be given exemptions for a period to allow them to upgrade to cleaner vehicles.

Where else are Clean Air Zones in force?

Clean Air Zones can be implemented by local authorities to tackle air pollution following guidelines from central government. The first UK city to establish a CAZ was London, which initially set up an Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) covering the same region as the Congestion Charge Zone. The ULEZ is a charge on top of the Congestion Charge, and performs a similar function to a CAZ.

In March 2021, Bath CAZ was launched which, like Bradford, is a CAZ C, meaning vans, buses, HGVs, and taxis are charged if they don't meet the emissions requirements. Equally, passenger cars and motorcycles are exempt from charges, though the fees are £100 for larger vehicles and £9 for LGVs.

Birmingham's CAZ was launched in June 2021 which is Class D. Charges are in place for all vehicles that don't reach emissions standards, passenger cars and motorcycles included. These remain Euro 6 for diesel models and Euro 4 for petrol cars or vans. Motorcycles need to be Euro 3 to avoid charges.

Birmingham City Council reports that in the first seven months of operation, nitrogen dioxide has decreased by 13%, reporting that the CAZ is having a direct impact on improving air quality.

What other zones are there?

London's ULEZ expanded in October 2021 to cover all areas within the North and South Circular roads, while this year Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh, and Glasgow launched their Low Emission Zones (LEZ).

Scottish LEZs apply emissions regulations for all vehicles entering the areas, other than those holding blue badges, emergency vehicles, military vehicles, and historic vehicles. Rather than a charge, these implement a fixed penalty notice should non-compliant vehicles enter them.

Costs are halved if paid within 14 days of the notice, but in an effort to discourage continued use, each time the vehicle is detected entering the zone, the penalty amount doubles to a cap of £480 for cars and LGVs, and £960 for buses, coaches, and HGVs.

Oxford launched a Zero Emission Zone at the end of February 2022, where only models with no tailpipe emissions are able to enter for free. At launch, this covers a small area in the centre of Oxford, but will be expanded at a later date to cover a larger area. Ultra low emission vehicles will see a small £2 charge per day, £4 for low emission vehicles, and £10 for all others. These will double in august 2025.

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