So you may be wondering “what on earth are Clean Air Zones?”

Chances are you’ll have spotted this phrase floating about online and wondered what on earth they are and what they mean for life as a motorist. Well, wonder no more because we’re here to clear the air (if you pardon the pun…)

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What are Clean Air Zones?

The term is quite self-explanatory. It’s an area where measures have been brought in by the local authority to improve the air quality. When Clean Air Zones are implemented, there will be two types: non-charging and charging. A non-charging Clean Air Zone means that non-compliant vehicles can enter the area without the driver having to hand over some cash for the privilege. Whereas a charging Clean Air Zone means that non-complaint vehicles will need to pay some cash to enter the area.

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Measures can include traffic flow management to reduce vehicle emissions, re-routing some traffic, retrofitting certain vehicles with emission-reducing tech or other local solutions. In the case of charging zones, any vehicles that fail to meet the required environmental standards will be hit with a fee ranging from £12.50 up to £100 a day!

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Why do we need Clean Air Zones?

Don’t go revving your thirsty V8 at the UK government – they were ordered by the Supreme Court to do something that would tackle the levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) in the air, in response to pressure from environmental groups.

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Around 40,000 premature deaths a year in the UK are linked to poor air quality, according to research from The Royal College of Physicians and of Paediatrics and Child Health. As such, the aim is that each Clean Air Zone will reduce air pollution levels and help the UK comply with the EU’s clean air directive.

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Where will the Clean Air Zones be?

By 2020, Clean Air Zones should be in place in five UK cities: Birmingham, Derby, Leeds, Nottingham and Southampton. Birmingham, Derby and Nottingham are still working out the fine details of their plans. But in Leeds, the proposed charging Clean Air Zone would cover all roads within the Outer Ring Road, with the motorways acting like a southern boundary.

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Upon the idea’s introduction, charges will apply to HGVs, buses, coaches, taxis and private hire vehicles. Daily fees would range from £12.50 for taxis and private hire vehicles, rising to £100 for buses, coaches and HGVs.

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Who will be affected by Clean Air Zones?

Originally, the idea was that they would only apply to buses, taxis and HGVs. But after a legal challenge, it seems that non-compliant private vehicles could be affected too – so in short, everyone. Think of it like the London Congestion Zone; if your vehicle’s emissions aren’t up to the mark, then expect to be charged.

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Is my city getting a Clean Air Zone?

Possibly. Many more cities were suggested initially. Bristol, Cardiff, Coventry, Hull, Leicester, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Sheffield and Stoke were all considered but dropped due to how expensive the the schemes would be to implement.

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However, you can count on the idea being revisited for certain cities very soon. London has been effectively excluded from the Clean Air Zone legislation, due to the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) that will come into force in 2019.

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What do you think about the introduction of Clean Air Zones? Let us know down in the comments.

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