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Clean Air Zones (CAZ) in the UK were first introduced in 2021, although plans had been in place since 2015 to take what was classed as the next step on from the Low Emission Zones (LEZ) and Ultra Low Emission Zones (ULEZ).  Clean Air Zones are also sometimes known as Zero Emission Zones (ZEZ).

CAZ Facts

  • There are two types of CAZ – charging and non-charging.
  • Drivers have to pay a fee to enter charging zones IF their vehicle doesn’t meet the environmental standards for emissions – these are based on the Euro Emissons Standard.
  • CAZ zones fall into 4 classes; A-D. These are very similar to the classes used in London’s ULEZ.
  • Local authorities for each area determine CAZ classes and all are regulated by the CAZ framework (introduced Feb 2020).
  • Bath was the first city to introduce a CAZ, in March 2021.

Class Information

  • A – applies to buses, coaches, taxis and privately hired vehicles only.
  • B – applies to buses, coaches, taxis, privately hired vehicles & heavy goods vehicles only.
  • C – applies to buses, coaches, taxis, privately hired vehicles, heavy goods vehicles and light goods vehicles.
  • D – applies to all vehicles except those exempt regardless of their emissions standard (such as historic vehicles, those with disabled drivers who pay passenger tax, or resident’s vehicles). Local authorities will govern these exemption rules.

Current (2024) list of UK city CAZs

  • Bath – Class C
  • Birmingham – Class D
  • Bradford – Class C
  • Bristol – Class D
  • Portsmouth – Class B
  • Tyneside (Newcastle and Gateshead) – Class C
  • Sheffield – Class C

Fees & Fines for CAZ

  • Local authorities will apply their own rules to fees and fines/penalties for vehicles using Clean Air Zones.
  • Fees to use a CAZ tend to be on a daily basis, so once you pay you can use the CAZ as much as you want within the day rate.
  • Some areas operate 24/7 and others have different “open” hours.

Other Low Emission Zones

  • Aberdeen – LEZ but this does not come into force until June 2024.
  • Dundee – Same as Aberdeen, this will commence from June 2024.
  • Edinburgh – Same as Aberdeen and Dundee.
  • Glasgow has operated a LEZ since 2018 but expanded this in 2023.
  • Oxford operates a ZEZ so only vehicles using batteries/fuel cells can enter for free.
  • London does not operate a CAZ; instead it has the largest 24/7 ULEZ in the world. It was expanded in 2023 to cover all London boroughs.

There are currently no CAZ in Wales, although this may change as Cardiff Council are reassessing their plans over carbon emissions and air pollution.