What Exactly Are the UK’s Clean Air Zones?

In the UK, initiatives intended to improve the quality of air have been introduced (and reintroduced) over the years. One of these initiatives is the Clean Air Zone or CAZ. 

With the government’s goal of zero emissions and banning petrol and diesel car sales beginning by 2030 and hybrid cars starting in 2035, the Clean Air Zone (and other similar schemes) can be a significant help in reducing air pollution.

What is a Clean Air Zone?

A Clean Air Zone is an area in the UK or Europe that is marked or identified, just like congestion zones. Vehicles that intend to travel to the area must be emissions compliant or they will be fined for excessive pollution. The CAZ can be a part of a city or a single road.

The purpose of a Clean Air Zone is to improve the quality of air in the area. It intends to address pollution issues of all types, including those that are linked to particulate matter (PM2.5), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), and nitrogen oxide (NOx).

As the zone charges pollutant vehicles entering the area, it is also a big help in protecting the public from being exposed to them, especially since each area has measures that are targeted to their specific air quality improvement needs.

The CAZ is one of the actions of the UK government’s Air Quality Plan, and the good thing about it is that it also focuses on the regional level, so hopes are high that the zones will eventually help improve air quality nationally.

Types of CAZs

There are two types of Clean Air Zones: 

Charging Clean Air Zones assign a fine for vehicles and drivers that enter the area if they do not meet emissions and environmental requirements, which are based on the Euro emissions standards of a vehicle. 

Non-charging Clean Air Zones rely on different strategies and programs that focus on improving actions that minimise vehicle emissions, such as traffic flow management, rerouting traffic, and retrofitting some vehicles. 

Why Clean Air Zones are important

There are several reasons why Clean Air Zones are important.

After several environmental groups clamoured for clearly delineated plans regarding the air pollution problem, the Supreme Court ordered the UK government to draw up strategies that can help reduce nitrogen dioxide levels and, in the process, minimise air pollution. 

Poor air quality is a global environmental health issue, one that has devastating effects on human lives. It does not only destroy the environment and vegetation but also impacts human health. Exposure to toxic air, particularly the one released by diesel vehicles, can cause breathing problems, asthma and aggravated asthma, nausea and vomiting, corroded teeth, headaches, bronchitis, emphysema, asphyxiation, increased risk for cancer, increased risk for cardiovascular diseases, and other respiratory problems.

Toxic air has also been linked to premature death. In the UK, the number of premature deaths in a year is estimated at 40,000, and they’re all because of poor air quality.

Which cities or areas have CAZs?

The following are the cities or areas that already have or will soon have a Clean Air Zone:

  • Aberdeen
  • Birmingham
  • Bath
  • Dundee
  • Glasgow 
  • Manchester
  • Edinburgh
  • Oxford
  • Portsmouth
  • Bristol (latter part of 2022)
  • Bradford (September 26, 2022)
  • Tyneside (Gateshead and Newcastle – winter; latter part of 2022 to 2023)
  • Greater Manchester (still in review)
  • Sheffield, Newcastle (no specific date yet)

Each zone falls under a Class.  There are four: Class A, B, C, and D.

  • Class A vehicles include coaches, buses, private hire vehicles, and taxis
  • Class B vehicles are coaches, buses, heavy goods vehicles, and private hire vehicles
  • Class C vehicles include coaches, buses, minibuses, heavy goods vehicles, private hire vehicles, and vans
  • Class D vehicles are coaches, buses, minibuses, heavy goods vehicles, private hire vehicles, vans, and cars. 

Only the local authorities of a locale can decide if motorcycles are to be included.

Diesel emissions

The diesel emissions scandal is one of the major reasons why toxic air is all over the UK and Europe. It involved famous car manufacturers such as Volkswagen and Mercedes-Benz and their use of defeat devices, which are illegal software intended to cheat emissions tests. 

When the device detects that the vehicle is in testing, it artificially reduces emissions levels to within the limits set by the World Health Organization (WHO). However, when the vehicle is taken out for tests in real-world conditions, it reverts to its default settings, which releases excess volumes of nitrogen oxide or NOx. The NOx emissions are way over the EU and WHO limits.

Drivers who bought defeat device-fitted vehicles unknowingly contribute toxic air. This is why car owners are encouraged to file a diesel emissions claim against their manufacturer. 

Bringing a claim against the carmaker is also a good way of making people aware of the dangers of toxic air.

Filing the claim

Filing a Mercedes emissions claim can be challenging, so the best thing for you to do is work with a panel of emissions solicitors such as the ones at Emissions.co.uk. Their panel know every step of the process and have won several claims cases. Working with them will give you an advantage over other claimants because of their knowledge and experience.

Best of all, their panel offer a no-win-no-fee guarantee, which means you do not have to worry about spending more than you can afford. So, visit their website now and discover if you are eligible to file aMercedes diesel claim.

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