Clean Air Zones: everything you need to know

Regional ultra low emission zones and clean air zones are being introduced around the UK to cut pollution. Is one coming to a city near you soon?...

Birmingham Clean Air Zone

So far, there are five regional clean air zones in the UK – in Bath, Birmingham, Manchester, Oxford and Portsmouth.

The schemes operating in Birmingham and Oxford are the only ones – aside from the London ULEZ scheme – that levy a fee on privately owned cars. Other cities' schemes focus on commercial vehicles and taxis.

Drivers of older, more polluting cars have to pay £8 a day to take them through the centre of Birmingham, and £10 a day to drive in Oxford's zero emission zone.

The Birmingham scheme also has a charge of £50 a day for larger vans, lorries, coaches and buses. The Oxford scheme aims to discourage all non-zero emission vehicles, so it also charges drivers of newer cars from £2 to £4 a day. Electric cars and electric vans can travel through the city for free.

Birmingham Clean Air Zone

The introduction of clean air zones around the UK follows the launch of the first Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) in London in 2019. Most clean air zones apply 24 hours a day every day of the year.

They usually mean charges for drivers of diesel cars that don’t meet the Euro 6 emissions standard (those first registered after September 2015) and petrol cars that don’t meet the Euro 4 standard (generally first registered from January 2006). 

Bath in Somerset launched its clean air zone in March 2021. It charges drivers of non-compliant taxis £9 a day and those driving buses, coaches and lorries £100 a day. 

The scheme in Manchester applies to commercial vehicles only (not cars). Since May 2022, drivers of buses, coaches and HGVs must pay £60 a day, and from 1 June 2023 light vans and minibuses will cost £10 a day.

A zone in Portsmouth, Hampshire has been operational since November 2021. It charges non-compliant taxis £10 a day, while buses, coaches and HGVs pay £50. 

Exhaust fumes

When are UK cities introducing car charging zones?

Other cities in England and Scotland are expected to introduce clean air zones over the next year to charge more-polluting vehicles a daily fee.

The cities and implementation dates are as follows: 

Aberdeen - 1 June 2024, all non-ULEZ compliant cars 

Bradford - 26 September 2022, non-ULEZ compliant taxis £9 a day, non-compliant minibuses and LGVs £9 a day, buses and HGVs £50 a day

Bristol - 28 November 2022, non-ULEZ compliant cars, light commercials and taxis £9 a day, non-compliant buses and HGVs £100 a day

Dundee - spring 2024, applicable to non-ULEZ compliant cars, buses, HGVs and taxis

Edinburgh - 1 June 2024, applicable to non-ULEZ compliant cars, buses, HGVs and taxis

Glasgow - 1 June 2023, or 1 June 2024 for vehicles registered to a residential property in the zone, applicable to non-ULEZ compliant cars, buses, HGVs and taxis

Newcastle - applicable from July 2022, but only warning letters will be sent until 2023, when charges will start to apply

Sheffield - early 2023, applicable to non-ULEZ compliant buses, lorries, taxis and vans

From 29 August 2023, the London ULEZ could be expanded to cover most of the area inside the M25, which encompasses 33 boroughs.

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