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Low Emission Zones - here's what you need to know.



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Clean air zones have been hitting the headlines this year with more towns and cities announcing the introduction of zones. 

We have summarised some of the key information below which we hope is helpful for you.  Our team are fully trained to ensure they can answer your questions on emissions and which vehicles will be exempt from clean air zones.  Contact us today via our website.

What are clean air zones and low emission zones?

Clean air zones are being set up in areas where air pollution exceeds legal limits and the local council have decided to take action to reduce emissions. 

The measures taken range from improving traffic flow to charging the most polluting vehicles a daily rate to enter the zone, in a bid to deter them. 

Government rules state that any income from the zones are used for operating costs or for other air quality measures – they are not for profit. 

Not all clean air zones involve vehicle charges. Some councils have stated they can improve air quality to acceptable levels by adjusting traffic light timing, for example, to keep traffic flowing. Other introductions can be a park and ride schemes. 

Those councils who are planning to charge will do so using automatic number plate recognition cameras (ANPR) to track vehicles and check their emission rating.

What vehicles are exempt from clean air zone and low emission zone charges?

All clean air zones are expected to comply with Government guidelines which make the most modern and cleanest vehicles exempt from charges. 

These vehicles comply with recent emission standards known as Euro 4, 5 and 6. These include:

  • Petrol cars meeting the Euro 4 standard or later (including virtually every car sold since January 2006) 
  • Diesel cars that meet the Euro 6 standard (including virtually every car sold since September 2015).
  • Electric cars

A Euro 6 standard for diesel vans became mandatory for new vans in September 2016, so the majority of compliant vehicles are relatively new. 

Lorries and coaches registered since 2014 will also be exempt, as will motorbikes sold over the past ten years.

What are the charges?

Drivers in London who do not meet the emissions will pay £12.50 per day to drive in the zones. The other towns and cities that are introducing zones between now and 2020 will likely charge a similar amount.

Diesel drivers will be worst-affected, as most diesel cars sold before September 2015 don't meet the latest emissions standard.

The majority of diesel vans sold before September 2016 will need to pay too. 

Petrol vehicles produce fewer harmful compounds, so cars built since 2006 will be unaffected, along with all electric cars and most hybrids.

Where are the Clean Air Zones?

London's ULEZ scheme will come into force from April 8, imposing daily tolls of £12.50 per day for affected cars and vans. Lorries that don't meet the standard face £100 daily charges. 

Birmingham and Bath plan to set up similar schemes in 2020, charging £12.50 and £9 per day respectively. Eventually, almost 20 councils could set up clean air zones, including some Scottish cities that plan to ban older vehicles from driving in city centres altogether. Other areas, including Leeds and Sheffield have proposed zones that only charge lorries, buses and taxis - not private cars or vans.

Below is a list of zones that are expected to appear by 2020. 

Aberdeen, Bath, Birmingham, Bristol, Cambridge, Cardiff, Derby, Dundee, Edinburgh, Fareham, Glasgow, Leeds, London, Manchester, Oxford, Reading, Sheffield, Slough, Warrington, York. 

Looking to the future stricter limits are anticipated, with some saying that petrol and diesel cars will be banned from some cities entirely by 2030.

If you would like any further information about leasing a car that is exempt from charges, contact our team.