What Is A Clean Air Zone?

< Back to blog

A clean air zone is an area that a local authority has brought into place to improve air quality.

Most major UK cities now have them. But what are they?

Do you want to learn about what clean air zones are, where to find them and what charges you need to be aware of? Find out in this guide.


The two types of clean air zones

Low emission zone sign in London

Charging clean air zones


In a charging clean air zone, drivers will be charged to the area if their vehicle is a non-compliant model that fails to meet required environmental standards.

To comply with clean air zone requirements diesel vans, minibuses, taxis, private hire vehicles and cars must meet the latest Euro 6 emissions standard. In short, this is any of these diesel vehicles that has been registered during or after September 2015.

For petrol, the same vehicles must meet the Euro 4 standard. This is any of these petrol models that has been registered during or after January 2006.

There are some vehicles that are exempt from any charge, which we’ll go into later in this piece.


Non-charging clean air zones


A non-charging clean air zone focuses on improving air quality with measures put in place by local authorities that don’t involve a charge to drivers.

For example, retrofitting certain vehicles to make them cleaner, traffic flow management to reduce emissions and rerouting traffic are just some methods practiced.


Which areas of the UK have clean air zones?

People walking by Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) and Congestion Charge signs on a street in London, UK.
  • Bath
  • Birmingham
  • Bradford
  • Bristol
  • Greater Manchester
  • Portsmouth
  • Sheffield
  • Tyneside (Newcastle and Gateshead)

If you suspect that you drive a non-compliant vehicle and are worried about being charged in any of the areas above, you may be able to qualify for an exemption permit.

You can check out the rules on exemptions for each area here.

Or you can check online whether you need to pay the daily charge for driving through a clean air zone.


How much is the clean air zone charge?

Traffic jam- cars in a row

The daily charge varies depending on the area in question.

As an example, Birmingham local authorities currently charge cars £8 per day for cars, but this rises to £50 per day for coaches, buses and HGVs.

Greater Manchester is slightly different, with a £7.50 daily charge for cars and £60 per day for coaches, buses and HGVs.

London’s ULEZ (Ultra-low Emissions Zones) are a completely separate system that operate on the same requirements but with higher daily charges. You have to pay £12.50 per day to drive a non-compliant car, small van, motorbike or minivan.


Want to keep up to date with the latest car news, reviews and entertainment? Head over to the Moneyshake blog for more automotive content.