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The Covid-19 pandemic has dominated business thought during 2020, but plans are still developing across the country for clean-air zones. We take a look at the latest information for towns, cities and regions, and how they will affect fleet operators


Clean-air commitments and Government and social pressures have caused cities across the UK to address how to reduce local air pollution, with a variety of methods that will impact upon different types and ages of vehicles, as well as different technologies, under consideration. We’ve taken a look at the latest plans across the country to see when and how fleets will need to adapt their operations, and their grey fleet movements, in different areas.

Some cities, including Coventry, Leeds and Southampton have dropped plans for clean-air zones, while Leicester and Portsmouth zones will only cover combinations of buses, HGVs and taxis. Liverpool and Stoke-on-Trent are potentially drafting proposals, but plenty more are pressing ahead.



When? The Scottish Government has given an indicative timeframe for introduction of before May 2022.

Where? With the process ongoing, the City Council has so far said it will focus on “the city centre area”, and operate 24/7. A consultation closed late last month, with firm plans not expected before next summer due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

Which vehicles? Still to be decided, but could affect any one or all of diesel cars, buses and goods vehicles not meeting Euro6 emissions regulations, or petrol cars not meeting Euro4.

More information



When? 15 March 2021, 24/7.

Where? City centre.

Which vehicles? Cars are exempt, but pre-Euro6 vans, light goods vehicles, pick-ups, campervans, taxi and private hire vehicles and minibuses will be charged £9 per day, and pre-Euro6 HGVs, buses and coaches £100 a day.

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When? 1 June 2021, 24/7.

Where? All roads within the A4540 MIddleway Ring Road, although not the ring road itself.

Which vehicles? All vehicles that have pre-Euro6 diesel or pre-Euro4 engines will have to pay the £8 per day charge, rising to £50 a day for HGVs, coaches and buses. There are exemptions for specialist emergency service vehicles and visitors to Birmingham Children’s Hospital.

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When? Early 2022 is the latest plan from the City Council, with a submission having gone into Government at the end of September despite neighbouring cities pausing planned schemes. Implementation will depend upon Government approval and funding.

Where? The city centre, Shipley and Saltaire.

Which vehicles? Current plans centre on light good vehicles upwards, and are not set to include private cars, with charges of up to £50 a day for pre-Euro6 vehicles.

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When? Having set out complex plans for a two-zone emission set-up, Bristol City Council is currently running another consultation on two proposals in the wake of further air quality modelling and the Covid-19 pandemic. The consultation runs until 22 November, with the results to be considered by the mayor and cabinet in early 2021. But the council has said that it is hoping that air-quality improvements could negate the need for any scheme that charges vehicles.

Where? Option 1 would cover a small area of central Bristol, with all non-compliant vehicles charged, while Option 2 would be Option 1, but with an additional larger charging zone also introduced. Private cars would be exempt from charging in the outer area.

Which vehicles? Vehicles hitting Euro6 diesel and Euro4 petrol emissions standards would be exempt from the £9 per day charge for cars, taxis and light goods vehicles, or £100 per day for HGVs, buses and coaches.

More information



When? Previous plans are now under review as pollution levels have dropped during the Covid pandemic. The latest is that Dundee City Council is working with the other three Scottish cities looking to implement low-emission zones “when the current crisis subsides”, with progress “reviewed regularly”.

Where? The zone would cover the area within the inner ring road.

Which vehicles? Original plans had pre-Euro6 diesel and pre-Euro4 petrol vehicles banned from entering the area.

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When? Covid has delayed plans in the Scottish capital until around May 2022.

Where? Current plans have a city centre boundary active from 2022, and potentially a larger city-wide area on top.

Which vehicles? Initially, pre-Euro6 diesel and pre-Euro4 petrol vans, HGVs, taxis, buses and coaches, with a grace period of at least two years for private cars and motorbikes. A second city-wide boundary is also being considered for all bar private cars and motorcycles.

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When? As with the other Scottish cities, Glasgow’s low-emission zone for vehicles other than buses has been delayed until at least May 2022, with 2023 likely. The zone has been operating since the end of 2018 for local buses only.

Where? The central area of the city – inside the River Clyde, M8 and High Street/Saltmarket.

Which vehicles? Still to be confirmed, but it is likely to cover all vehicles not meeting the Euro6 diesel and Euro4 petrol standards

More information



When? Plans currently revolve around a spring 2022 implementation date, with the scheme running 24/7, although vans would not be charged until 2023. Greater Manchester has declared that it will review the need for the zone in 2026, and if it is below legal air pollution limits it intends to decommission the zone.

Where? Following “as closely as possible” the administrative boundary of Greater Manchester, not including the motorways and major trunk roads operated by Highways England. That would include the likes of Oldham, Wigan, Rochdale and Bolton, as well as Manchester and Salford.

Which vehicles? The plan is for a ‘Category C clean-air zone, which ensnares vans, buses, coaches, taxis and private hire vehicles, minibuses and HGVs that don’t meet Euro6 diesel and Euro4 petrol standards. Vans would be charged £10 per day, taxis £7.50 and buses £60.

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When? From 2022, the airport is planning to introduce an ultra-low emission zone mimicking the standards of the central London ULEZ, which means a potential charge of £10-15 on any pre-Euro6 diesel and pre-Euro4 petrol passenger car or private hire vehicle. That is intended to “transition” to a vehicle access charge on all passenger cars, taxis and private hire vehicles by 2026 to encourage more sustainable ways of travelling to the airport.

London gets tricky

London has an ultra-low emission zone with the same boundaries as the Congestion Charge zone, but due to be expanded to, but not including, the North and South Circular on 25 October 2021.

As part of a bail-out package to save TfL, the Government tried to expand the C-charge zone to the same wider boundary. At present, that threat has been averted, but it could return to the table, and could mean around four million residents being charged for using non-conforming vehicles in it.

In the current C-charge zone drivers pay £15 if their car emits more than 75g/km of CO2, plus £12.50 for the ULEZ for diesels not hitting Euro6 or a petrol not meeting Euro4 standards.

Where? The charge would hit any vehicle entering a car park or drop-off area at any of the terminals, 24/7.

Which vehicles? Cars, taxis and private hire are the target, with commercial vehicles already covered in part by the wider London low-emission zone.

More information here



When? From 2021.

Where? Newcastle City Centre.

Which vehicles? Cars won’t be included, but everything from vans upwards would be charged if not compliant, at a rate of £12.50 per day for vans and taxis, and £50 a day for HGVs, buses and coaches. Delivery hubs for smaller goods vehicles outside the charging zone will be introduced to allow for last-mile deliveries by electric vehicle or cargo bike. However, cars could be covered in a second wave if such an approach is deemed necessary.

More information here


When? Staggered from 1 February 2021.

Where? The initial zone would cover several city centre streets where only zero-emission vehicles would be allowed to enter without being hit with a £10 per day charge, rising to £20 in August 2025 between 7am-7pm.

Which vehicles? Oxford City Council classifies zero-emission as cars with sub-50g/km emissions and a 70-mile EV range or light commercials of below 75g/km with at least 10 miles of EV range.

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When? Early 2021, although the city is said to be considering back-tracking.

Where? Inner ring road and city centre.

Which vehicles? Cars will be exempt, but everything from vans and taxis will be charged if not hitting Euro6 diesel and Euro4 petrol emissions levels, with charges of £10 per day for LGVs and taxis, and £50 for coaches, buses and HGVs.

More information



When? The Welsh Government has published a Clean Air Plan for Wales document that discusses the possibility of charging zones for areas of high pollution, as well as the potential for introducing workplace parking charges. A Clean-Air Zone Framework will be published in spring 2021. Implementation is put by the Welsh Government as in the mid-term, which it says is 2021-2026.

Where? The Welsh Government hasn’t been more specific than to say the zone would “be applied to geographical target areas which can be local and sub-regional”.

Which vehicles? It’s too early to say.


Paul Barker