Take a deep breath. The latest on Clean Air Zones

Clean Air Zone update - March 2020
Clean Air Zones are under consideration in towns and cities across the UK in response to Government and
local authority concerns on high levels - sometimes illegally high levels - of air pollution.
The first Clean Air Zone impacting on cars and vans/light goods vehicles was introduced in London
on April 8, 2019.
Elsewhere numerous towns and cities are considering implementing Clean Air Zones. However, plans, which
require Government approval prior to introduction, are evolving at different rates as significant behind-the-scenes analysis is undertaken.
Venson Automotive Solutions published its first Clean Air Zone guide early in 2019 - https://www.venson.com/uploads/pdfs/VENS6373_CleanAirZone_V3-67-2019-49.pdf. The guide was significantly updated in July 2019 and included a city-by-city, town-by-town listing on the roll-out of local plans - https://www.venson.com/Media/ViewWhitePaper/37 
Now, as local authority proposals continue to evolve, Venson Automotive Solutions has further updated guidance on an individual city and town basis as the latest developments emerge.
Government finally launches online CAZ vehicle checker

A new online vehicle registration checker service has been launched by the Government to help drivers and businesses prepare for the introduction of chargeable entry to Clean Air Zones in Birmingham and Leeds and other towns and cities.

Both Birmingham and Leeds City Councils were scheduled to introduce Clean Air Zones in January, but were forced to delay launch. They both blamed the Government for not delivering the digital vehicle checking tool in time to make the Clean Air Zones operational.

Launch of the vehicle checker now means that both councils intend to go ahead with their plans to implement Clean Air Zones in July.

Birmingham’s Class D Clean Air Zone will see non-compliant - non-Euro 6/VI for diesel or Euro 4 for petrol - cars, vans/light goods vehicles, taxis and private hire vehicles charged £8 a day to travel in the Zone and HGVs, coaches and buses charged £50 a day. There is no charge for motorcycles, mopeds or scooters to drive in the Zone, which covers all roads within the A4540 Middleway Ring Road (but not the Middleway itself).

Employees who currently drive to work in a non-compliant vehicle, if their employer is located within the Clean Air Zone and they earn less than £30,000 a year, will not be charged a Zone entry fee until 2021, one year after its introduction.

The Class B Zone in Leeds means that owners of the worst polluting - non-Euro 6/VI for diesel or Euro 4 for petrol - HGVs, buses, coaches, taxis and private hire vehicles will be charged to enter. Private cars, light good vehicles, and motorcycles will not be charged. Non-compliant HGVs, buses and coaches will face a £50 a day charge and taxis and private hire vehicles £12.50 a day or £50 a week for Leeds-licensed vehicles.

The online checker allows drivers and businesses to key in a vehicle’s registration number and see if they will be charged for driving inside a Clean Air Zone.

As other towns and cities also introduce Clean Air Zones later in 2020 and into 2021 the online vehicle checker can be similarly used.

The online vehicle checker to find out if a daily Clean Air Zone charge applies to a specific vehicle is available at: https://www.gov.uk/check-clean-air-zone-charge

Bath and North East Somerset
A Class C Clean Air Zone is expected to see charges for all higher emission vehicles, except cars, driving in the centre of Bath by the end of 2020.
Bath and North East Somerset Council has recently completed a public consultation on the scheme that will see higher emission buses, coaches and HGVs charged £100 a day to enter Bath city centre; and vans, taxis, private hire vehicles and minibuses £9 a day.
The council is now examining all responses to the consultation before the final plan is submitted for approval by central Government in December 2019. If approved it is anticipated that Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) cameras and signage will be installed in 2020.
To help businesses upgrade their vehicles ahead of introduction of the Clean Air Zone, the Council has proposed a £24.2 million interest-free loan fleet scheme. The Council says it will cover the interest on the loan scheme via funds being requested from the Government’s Clean Air Fund. The scheme will be open for applications early in 2020. Further information is available at: https://www.bathnes.gov.uk/bath-breathes-2021-overview/financial-assistance
Councillor Joanna Wright, cabinet member for transport services, said: “We don’t want people to pay to drive polluting vehicles in the Zone, but we understand that not every business or tradesperson has the means to buy new commercial vehicles. That’s why we’ve secured significant funds from central Government to help local business and individuals upgrade their non-compliant vehicles with interest-free finance or grants.
“We’ve also secured funds for local bus companies to retrofit older buses, and to hire travel advisors to help businesses in particular to access support and plan for more sustainable transport and deliveries.”
Birmingham, the UK’s second city, which is set to introduce a Clean Air Zone in July, is looking at tightening regulations to the extent that it is proposing to ‘limit’ private car city centre access with a complete ban on through trips.

The measures underline the radical thinking of local councils and the extent to which they are prepared to go to improve air quality and compel fleets and consumers to transition to zero emission vehicles and alternative meets of travel.

Birmingham City Council has revealed the plan in its newly published ‘Birmingham Transport Plan 2031’, which outlines a range of measures designed to: Prioritise people over cars, boost public transport, revitalise the city centre and local centres, reduce transport’s impact on the environment, and eliminate road danger particularly in residential areas by prioritising walking and cycling.

The city is striving to become carbon neutral by 2030 and Councillor Waseem Zaffar, cabinet member for transport and environment, said: “As a city, we have been over-reliant on private cars for too long and with more people choosing to live and work in Birmingham, we need to find innovative new ways to keep the city moving in an efficient but sustainable way.

“The more journeys we take by walking and cycling, the more we will improve air quality and our health and the more we will reduce congestion. For longer journeys, buses, trams and trains will be the backbone of a new, go-anywhere transport system.”

Subject to Cabinet approval, the draft plan will go out to public consultation from January 28, before a final version is formally adopted by the Council.

Referencing the forthcoming Clean Air Zone, Mr Zaffar said: “The introduction of Birmingham's Clean Air Zone will reinforce our commitment to establish a zero emissions city.”

The Clean Air Zone is expected to be introduced on July 1. Birmingham, like Leeds City Council, had planned to introduce the Zone, which will cover all roads within the A4540 Middleway Ring Road (but not the Middleway itself), this month (January).

However, as mentioned in Venson Automotive Solution’s Clean Air Zone update (summer 2019), introduction was postponed with the councils blaming the Government for not delivering digital vehicle checking tools in time that were needed to make the Zones operational.

The Class D Clean Air Zone will see non-compliant - non-Euro 6/VI for diesel or Euro 4 for petrol - cars, vans/light goods vehicles, taxis and private hire vehicles charged £8 a day to travel in the Zone and HGVs, coaches and buses will be charged £50 a day. There is no charge for motorcycles, mopeds or scooters to drive in the Clean Air Zone.

Employees who currently drive to work in a non-compliant vehicle, if their employer is located within the Clean Air Zone and they earn less than £30,000 a year, will not be charged a Zone entry fee until 2021, one year after its introduction.

Separately, Birmingham City Council has proposed plans to investigate developing and implementing a workplace parking levy in the city. It is predicted that the scheme, if given the green light, would not become operational until 2023/24.

Businesses which would have to pay the levy, if introduced, would be those located inside the A4540 Middleway ring road, the same boundary as the Clean Air Zone, and have more than 10 workplace spaces.

Also aimed at improving air quality to create a healthier environment and reduce congestion in Birmingham, the council's initial report estimates that the levy charge would be £500 per space in the first year. It is suggested that the levy would increase 2% per annum rising to £510 in 2024/25 and to £520 in 2025/26 up to £609 in 2033/34. The number of chargeable spaces is estimated to be 14,587.

Mr Zaffar said: “A Workplace Parking Levy would help tackle air pollution, fund public transport improvements, reduce congestion and improve the way we move around our city.

We have already undertaken some initial work to understand the potential benefit of a Workplace Parking Levy in Birmingham.”

Currently, Nottingham is the only UK city to have a workplace parking levy.  The ‘Birmingham Transport Plan 2031’ www.birmingham.gov.uk/transportplan

City of Bradford Metropolitan District Council has launched a public consultation on its plans for a Clean Air Zone that will impact light commercial vehicles, HGVs, buses, coaches, taxis and private hire vehicles, but not private cars.
The area proposed for the Class C Clean Air Zone covers the city’s outer ring road - previously a Class D Zone was mooted that would have included private cars. Suggested daily entry charges for non-compliant vehicles are: £50 for HGVs, buses and coaches, £12.50 for taxis and private hire vehicles, and £9 for vans and minibuses.
The formal Clean Air Zone plan will be submitted for Government approval in summer 2020. If given the green light implementation of the Zone is scheduled for October 2021.
The council is looking at ways to support local businesses and drivers to access cleaner vehicles and is proposing to use funding allocated by Government.
The consultation, which runs until March 27, asks for views on the level of funding being proposed for upgrade or retrofit of vehicles to help them meet entry criteria - up to £15,000 for HGVs and up to £5,000 for light goods vehicles and minibuses.
Council leader Susan Hinchcliffe, said: “This ambitious plan will improve the health of every resident in the district and will contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, in line with our climate emergency declaration.
“These plans are being shaped by the views of local residents and businesses and will improve the environment for people in the district. We need everyone to play their part in making better choices when it comes to air pollution.”
One of the schemes being considered to improve air quality is the establishment of an Alternative Energy Centre. It will be a community centre for alternative fuels, including compressed natural gas, biomethane and hydrogen - respondents are asked to rate the impact this it is likely to have as well as whether they’d be likely to use the complex.
Further information is available at: https://bradford.moderngov.co.uk/mgConsultationDisplay.aspx?ID=231
Bristol is to ban all privately owned diesel cars from a section of the city centre and introduce a wider charging zone for non-compliant commercial vehicles such as buses, taxis, HGVs and vans, if Government approval for the initiative is given with implementation slated for March 2021.
Bristol City Council’s Clean Air Zone plan means that it is set to become the first city in the UK to take what it called “the bold step of introducing a small area diesel ban”.
Mayor of Bristol, Marvin Rees, said: “These ambitious plans demonstrate our commitment to tackling air pollution so we meet legal limits within the shortest time, without disproportionally affecting citizens on lower incomes which would happen with a blanket approach to charging vehicles.”
The plan has now been submitted to the Government’s Joint Air Quality Unit. The Council will continue to work closely with the Unit on preparing the full business case for submission early next year. 
As part of the full business case, there will be direct engagement with all businesses and residents affected to help manage implementation, including details of mitigations measures and exemptions. The deadline for the implementation of the plans is March 2021.
The diesel ban on all privately owned cars is set to cover part of the M32, the old city, Redcliffe, Spike Island, the Harbourside and part of Hotwells between the hours of 7am and 3pm, seven days a week. It will not apply to taxis/private hire or emergency service vehicles.
And a Class C Clean Air Zone impacting on vans/light goods vehicles, private hire vehicles, taxis, buses, coaches and HGVs will simultaneously be introduced covering a wider area of the city. Non-compliant vans/light goods vehicles, private hire vehicles and taxis and non-compliant HGVs, coaches and buses - those that do not meet Euro6/VI emission standards - would be charged £9 per day and £100 per day entry respectively.
Fines will be levied on diesel cars and commercial vehicles that enter the area covered by the diesel car ban and the Clean Air Zone, although the level of punishment has yet to be announced. Enforcement will be via number plate recognition cameras.
Road user charging, Low Emission and Clean Air Zones and workplace parking levies are all on Cardiff City Council’s agenda as it seeks to tackle the climate emergency.

The Council’s newly published white paper, ‘Transport Vision to 2030: Changing How We Move Around A Growing City’, sets out a £2 billion vision designed to transform Cardiff and South East Wales' travel network and simultaneously reduce congestion and improve air quality in the Welsh capital. 

The plan has been developed following consultation with thousands of city residents, health and transport experts.

Much of the white paper focuses on:

  • Expanding the South Wales Metro plans with new tram-train routes and station
  • Introducing new Bus Rapid Transit services and park and ride sites and make bus travel cheaper

However, in arguing for a “re-prioritisation of our streets to give more space to people walking and cycling”, the Council will rollout 20mph speed limits across the city and is looking at introducing:

  • A road user charging scheme with a minimum £2 charge for vehicles entering the city. The local authority says its preferred option would be to exempt residents from any charge
  • A workplace parking levy
  • A Low Emission or Clean Air Zone
  • Working with car club operators to provide city-wide, 24-hours-a-day access to vehicles
  • Encourage the uptake of electric vehicles by significantly increasing the number of publicly-available charging points by 2025 - the Council is planning on making all of its fleet cars and light goods vehicles zero-emission capable by 2025, and HGVs zero-emission capable as soon as possible.

Referencing road user charging, workplace parking levies and Low Emission/Clean Air Zones, the paper said all the proposals “will be tested” and that “no scheme will be taken forward unless we are satisfied that such a scheme will work for our residents and the city”. However, the paper made clear that its preferred option was a road user charging scheme with all options to be examined over the next 12 months.

Council leader Huw Thomas said: "The future success of Cardiff hinges on getting transport right in the city. There can’t be anyone who is happy with the current state of affairs which is why we are bringing forward this ambitious 10-year vision.”

Cllr Caro Wild, cabinet member for strategic planning and transport, called Cardiff’s existing transport network “no longer fit for purpose” and added: “One option might be a simple, universal, £2, low-charging system applied to non-Cardiff residents who drive into the city which could reduce congestion, whilst raising money towards paying for improvements to our transport network. We need to get people out of cars and on to public transport. To do that we need to give them the best public transport options. And to do that we need to raise money to pay for them.

“Road user charging isn’t the only option available to raise money and we will be looking at other options in a business case I am recommending we undertake over the next year. No charge will be put in place until that business case is completed and all options have been reviewed, including possible parking place levies and congestion zones.”

In spring 2018 the Welsh Government launched a consultation on the introduction of Clean Air Zones in areas with poor air quality, as referenced in Venson Automotive Solution’s Clean Air Zone update (summer 2019). At the time Cardiff City Council had been directly mandated by the UK Government in Westminster to consider introducing a Clean Air Zone. Subsequently, the Council has announced a package of air quality improvement measures that did not include a Clean Air Zone.

Commenting on the possible introduction of a road user or congestion charge, Sally Gilson, head of policy for Wales at the Freight Transport Association (FTA), said: “If the scheme is successful in taking private drivers off the roads, it will make space for the vehicles that truly need access to the city, including commercial vehicle operators who must deliver the goods that supermarkets, hospitals, schools and restaurants all need to operate.

“Too often, these drivers face heavily congested and slow-moving roads. The FTA is also asking for clarification on how the charge will be managed and enforced, and whether the charge will ignite real change or in reality just be an additional tax.

A Clean Air Zone will not be introduced in Coventry after the City Council won its battle with the Government.

Last year, the Government ordered the city to introduce a Class D Clean Air Zone, which would have impacted on all vehicles including cars and light commercial vehicles. The Council, which previously agreed not to implement a scheme around the city’s ring road, was told to present a full business case to ministers. A petition was subsequently launched against the Government’s directive.  
Now the Government has written to the Council in support of local proposals which set out a series of measures to reduce nitrogen dioxide (NO2) emissions, benefiting residents through cleaner air and better health.
It means Coventry does not need a Class D charging Clean Air Zone, which would have seen higher emission vehicles charged for entering a large area of the city.
The Council has been awarded grant funding of £24.5 million to implement a wide range of other schemes, particularly focused on traffic management and encouraging the uptake of electric vehicles.
In the letter to Council leader George Duggins, Rebecca Pow, a junior minister in the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, said: “I am pleased that you have submitted updated modelling in order to meet your direction and that the Council has subsequently worked closely with my officials to refine your options…On the basis of the evidence provided, I am content that you should proceed with implementing your preferred alternative option to a charging Clean Air Zone.”
Cllr Jim O’Boyle, Council cabinet member for jobs and regeneration, called the decision “excellent” and that it “reflected the overwhelming views of local people and businesses”.
He claimed that: “A Clean Air Zone in Coventry would have potentially created worse air quality on many residential roads bordering the charging Zone as drivers would have sought alternative routes to avoid it.”
Cllr O’Boyle continued: “In June last year we clearly set out to the Government why a Clean Air Zone would not work in Coventry and is not needed. More than six months on it has confirmed what we have always said.
“What we all know is that it is absolutely vital that we tackle air pollution - and particularly vehicle emissions.
“We know the health risks of nitrogen dioxide and that is why we want to address this through a package of measures including: highways engineering; improved traffic management; cycle routes; travel planning; upgrading bus fleet; supporting a shift to electric taxis; and encouraging the uptake of electric cars and installing more charging points. We have a lot do.”
The legal direction from the Government means the Council will need to submit a final full business case by June 19, 2020, which will feature more details on the schemes now due to get underway. Ahead of the June deadline the local authority will hold further discussions with residents on the proposed measures.
Greater Manchester
Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham says the area “is ready” with its Clean Air Plan, which includes the largest proposed Clean Air Zone outside London, covering 500 square miles and 2.8 million people, but wants the Government to commit more cash to fund the transition by businesses to ‘clean’ vehicles.
The proposed Class C Clean Air Zone would cover 10 local authority areas - Stockport, Manchester, Oldham, Bolton, Bolsover, Bury, Salford, Stockport, Tameside and Trafford.
However, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) rejected the plan, which would target non-compliant HGVs, buses and coaches, taxis and private hire vehicles from 2021 and expand to non-compliant vans/light goods vehicles, minibuses, motorhomes and motorised horseboxes from 2023. The 10 local councils received a ministerial instruction to accelerate by two years plans to include vans/light goods vehicles in its Clean Air Zone plan.
Furthermore, the Authority was also asked to demonstrate that introducing a Class D Clear Zone, which would include cars, would not mean compliance with legal air quality standards sooner than 2024.
The Authority also asked the Government for £116 million of clean vehicle funding to help local businesses upgrade to clean vehicles and thereby avoid any penalty for travelling through the Clean Air Zone. That included: A £59 million Clean Freight Fund, for upgrading HGVs and vans; a £29 million Clean Bus Fund to support a switch to a greener bus and coach fleet in the city-region; and a £28 million Clean Taxi Fund, for a move to compliant hackney cabs and private hire vehicles.
Mr Burnham said: “Greater Manchester is ready with our Clean Air Plan proposals to quickly tackle the huge problem of air pollution, which contributes to the equivalent of 1,200 deaths in our city-region each year. But Government has so far failed to commit enough funding to implement.
“And, crucially, it has not so far put forward any funding to help Greater Manchester bus and coach operators, taxi and private hire drivers and companies, businesses with HGVs and vans - which could be affected by our Clean Air Zone proposal - to retrofit their existing vehicles, or move to cleaner models, to avoid paying a daily penalty to drive within the zone. We don’t want businesses to pay - we want to help them switch to compliant vehicles. But we need much more support from the Government to do this.”
Leeds City Council has confirmed that it has asked the Government for permission to delay its introduction of a Clean Air Zone due to the impact of the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.
Last week Birmingham City Council said it had written to the Government requesting postponement to the launch of its Clean Air Zone. Scheduled for implementation in summer 2020, councillors asked for a delay “until at least the end of the calendar year”.
Earlier this month, Leeds City Council; announced that it would introduce a chargeable Clean Air Zone covering a major part of the urban area on September 28, 2020.
The Class B Zone would mean that owners of the worst polluting - non-Euro 6/VI for diesel or Euro 4 for petrol - HGVs, buses, coaches, taxis and private hire vehicles would be charged to enter. Private cars, light good vehicles, and motorcycles would not be charged.
Non-compliant HGVs, buses and coaches would face a £50 a day charge and taxis and private hire vehicles £12.50 a day or £50 a week for Leeds-licensed vehicles. 
Now, in a joint statement from the leader of Leeds City Council, councillor Judith Blake, and authority chief executive Tom Riordan have said: “We have asked the Government for permission to delay the implementation of the Clean Air Charging Zone until further notice.”
The Council confirmed that it had asked the Government to delay the introduction of the Clean Air Zone “until the end of the year at the earliest”.
North East England
Newcastle City Council has toned down its Clean Air Zone plans by making private cars exempt from any charge.

Previously, the Council was considering introducing a Class D Clean Air Zone, which would have applied to all vehicles. However, following lengthy and detailed consultations, the Council has downgraded its plans to a Class C Clean Air Zone with charges being applied to HGVs, buses and coaches, vans/light goods vehicles, taxies and private hire vehicles.

As previously announced, non-compliant HGVs, buses and coaches will be charged £50 per day and vans/light goods vehicles, taxies and private hire vehicles £12.50 per day. Minimum entry standards are Euro 4 for petrol vehicles and Euro 6/V1 for diesel vehicles.

The Council also decided to restrict traffic on the Tyne Bridge to one lane in either direction, a development that has been criticised by the Freight Transport Association (FTA).

The FTA said that proposal would “not deliver the desired improvements in air quality and will simply increase road congestion”.

Mags Simpson, head of Northern England policy at FTA, said: “Newcastle City Council needs to reconsider its proposal to close one lane of the Tyne Bridge in each direction; this approach will significantly increase road congestion and air pollution in the local vicinity, and have an impact on journey times and costs.”

Claiming to be “bewildered by this sudden change of plan”, Ms Simpson continued: “The Newcastle Clean Air Zone involves daily charges for vehicles entering the city centre; but not private cars. Cities need goods to operate effectively and these charges are a significant financial burden to any operator trying to work in and around Newcastle; it is unfair to expect businesses to bear the cost of cleaning Newcastle’s air alone.”

The plans for the Clean Air Zone, which is slated for introduction in 2021, must be approved by the Government.

The Newcastle Clean Air Zone plans are part of a wider North East England air quality improvement initiative also involving local authorities covering Gateshead, North Tyneside and South Tyneside.

North Staffordshire
Stoke-on-Trent City Council and Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council are investigating ways to reduce air pollution in certain areas by 2021, predominantly in and around the A53 corridor - but a Clean Air Zone is now viewed as unlikely although a workplace parking levy is reported to be under consideration.
The Government has ordered the councils to evaluate various options, and develop a preferred approach that improves air quality on the A53 and in other parts of the city and borough in the shortest possible time.
Traffic surveys have recently been carried out to understand how people, taxi drivers and businesses with higher polluting vehicles use the A53 between the A500 and Newcastle town centre, Festival Park and Hanley, as well as surrounding areas. Additionally, motorists have been asked how they would respond if a charging Clean Air Zone was to be introduced.
The information gathered from the five-week exercise is now being used by the local authorities to develop alternative, non-charging traffic management solutions. However, it has emerged that a workplace parking levy could also be under consideration, according to local newspaper reports although no further details are available.
Councillor Trevor Johnson, borough cabinet member for environment and recycling, said: “The Government has determined that Clean Air Zones are the most effective way of resolving this issue quickly and has instructed that other methods must be measured against this benchmark.
“The Borough Council has serious concerns about a chargeable Clean Air Zone, and the impact it could have on the local economy. We are keen to rigorously test credible alternative options which we believe can deliver the same improvement, in the same time frame, such as improving air quality through improved traffic management. This research is hugely important as it will give us real data about how drivers would respond to a Clean Air Zone and help us to identify the most appropriate solution to the air quality problem.”
UK’s first Zero Emission Zone banning all but electric and hydrogen vehicles from free-entry is scheduled to be
introduced in Oxford city centre later this year and to be expanded further afield in 2021/22.
The far-reaching two-phase measure has been revealed in final draft proposals that are
now open to public consultation.
As previously reported - https://www.venson.com/Media/ViewWhitePaper/37 - the plans see the city taking a staggered approach towards its final target of zero transport emissions within its boundaries by 2035.
The informal consultation on phase one, the Red  Zone, which essentially covers five city centre streets, runs until the end of January. Both Oxford City Council and Oxfordshire County Council are seeking feedback on: 
  • Charge levels for non-compliant vehicles - cars, vans, HGVs and mopeds/motorcycles - of £10 per day charge is suggested rising to £20 per day in December 2024 
  • The Zone’s hours of operation – 7am-7pm is recommended
  • Whether discounts should be available for all blue badge holders entering the Zone until December 2024 and a 90% discount for residents living in the Zone until December 2030
  • What future phases of the Zero Emission Zone should include, and when they should be implemented. The draft document proposes the creation of a Green Zone covering the rest of the city centre in 2021/22, which would be accessed free of charge by zero emission vehicles and with discounted charges for vehicles which comply with the London Ultra Low Emission Zone standards (Euro6/VI for diesel vehicles/Euro 4 for petrol vehicles).
The document also proposes exemptions for businesses registered in the Red Zone until December 2024, followed by a 50% discount until December 2030 when a £10 per day charge would be levied.
The Councils say that exempting vehicles registered to businesses within the Red Zone from any charge until December 2024, allows employers time to transition to zero emissions fleets. Deliveries in non-zero emission vehicles may be made free of charge outside of the operating hours of the Red Zone.
Under the proposals, a compliant vehicle is considered to be one that matches the Government’s Plug-In grant criteria - allowing some plug-in hybrids (cars with CO2 emissions of less than 50g/km and can travel at least 70 miles without any emissions at all and vans with CO2 emissions of less than 75g/km and can travel at least 10 miles without any emissions at all) and hydrogen vehicles, as well as 100% electric vehicles.
Following the feedback, the Red Zone will then go to formal consultation in March, and the draft charging order published, with both Councils making a formal decision on implementation in the spring, which could mean the scheme coming into effect in December 2020.
Under the proposals, zero emission vehicles would be able to drive in the Red Zone, which consists of Bonn Square, Queen Street, Cornmarket, Ship Street, St Michael’s Street, and New Inn Hall Street - free of charge.
The Councils say that buses and taxis are already on agreed journeys towards zero emission fleets. From January 2020, all Hackney Carriage Vehicles licenced in Oxford will be moving towards becoming zero emission by 2025, with phased emission standards. The councils are also working with bus companies operating in Oxford to move towards zero emission by 2035 at the latest, but are working to achieve that by 2030 if possible.
Meanwhile, as part of its pledge to become carbon neutral by 2030, Oxfordshire County Council has already started switching to an electric fleet, with the aim of being electric for most of its cars and vans by 2024 and 2028 respectively. New e-bikes have also joined the fleet meaning that staff unused to cycling can get to local meetings more easily under their own steam.
The City Council’s wholly-owned direct services company, Oxford Direct Services Ltd has committed to electrifying at least 25% of its fleet by 2023. The City Council currently has 50 hybrid and electric vehicles in its fleet. That, it says, has contributed to the reduction of the City Council’s emissions by 10% in the last year, and by 40% in the last five years.
The Green Zone due to cover the remainder of the city centre and slated for implementation in 2021/22, would operate alongside the Red Zone, with separate requirements.
That could involve a charging scheme with:
  • Daily charges for high emission vehicles - worse than Euro 6/VI diesel or Euro 4 petrol
  • A discounted daily charge for low emission vehicles - Euro 6/VI diesel, Euro 4 petrol or better, and/or for vehicles which comply with the London Ultra Low Emission Zone standards
  • No charge for zero emission vehicles
  • Discounts for residents’ cars, vans or motorcycles.
Greater detail around the implementation of the Green Zone and how it would work is subject to further technical work, and consultation in 2020.
Councillor Yvonne Constance, cabinet member for environment, Oxfordshire County Council, said: “Not only will this project make a huge difference to the quality of life and health of people living and working in the city centre, we are showing that it is possible as we start to respond seriously to the climate emergency. This is a great way to start an important decade of climate action.”
Christopher Benton, director of Oxford-based logistics Pedal & Post, said: “We now work with over 80 local businesses delivering everything from parcels to veg boxes to urgent medication and we've managed to save an estimated 30 tons of CO2 from cycling across 2019. The Zero Emission Zone gives us as a local business the confidence to invest further and be much more ambitious in 2020 to help Oxford towards emission free deliveries.”
  • Further information is available at: https://www.oxford.gov.uk/news/article/1288/final_draft_proposals_published_in_countdown_to_oxford_zero_emission_zone
York could become the first city in the UK to ban cars from its centre under new plans to improve air quality.
Under the proposals, City of York Council aims to stop all non-essential private car journeys within the city walls by 2023. It has also said that it would work with businesses to make sure deliveries continued and companies were not negatively impacted by the changes.
This month (January), the Council is phasing in a Clean Air Zone for buses with a minimum standard for the emissions of vehicles travelling on and inside the Inner Ring Road.
Last year, the Council also introduced anti-idling measures. Signs have been installed across the city urging drivers to switch off their engines while parked. Those who are asked to turn off their vehicles but refuse to do so can now be fined £20 and could be prosecuted if they fail to pay.
However, the Council’s latest moves to improve air quality go further than any city to date including Bristol, which, among other measures, plans to ban all privately owned diesel cars from a section of the city centre from March 2021 if the measure is given Government approval.
Additionally, the Council has said that it would work with traders in any plans to ensure deliveries continue and businesses were not negatively impacted by any changes to city centre access; work with disability groups and Blue Badge holders to ensure they could still enter the city; and would ban all non-essential cars from accessing roads around the city’s primary schools at drop-off and pick-up times.
The measures are part of the Council’s plan to make the city carbon neutral by 2030. Councillors claim that by reducing and removing non-essential car journeys across the city, whilst improving the attractiveness of other travel options - cycling and faster, more reliable public transport - will boost air quality.
The plan “to restrict all non-essential private motor vehicle journeys within the city walls by 2023” was proposed at a full Council meeting by Labour councillor Jonny Crawshaw and secured majority support.
Councillor Andy D’Agorne, deputy leader of City of York Council and executive member responsible for transport, said: “Reducing congestion and supporting more residents and visitors to move around our wonderful city through walking, cycling and public transport is essential to meet our ambition.
“Our largely pedestrianised shopping areas have already transformed the city centre and we are looking at options to take this to the next level. A car free and thriving city centre - which is accessible to those with limited mobility like blue badge holders - is achievable but only through detailed planning and engagement with those most affected by the proposals. 
“Responding to the climate emergency will be a city-wide effort and we will develop our plans with York residents and businesses in the next year as we work to become a cleaner, greener city.”
A Council spokeswoman officers would develop the plan and how they could be implemented, while also taking account of other initiatives including the authority’s local transport plan and ‘my city centre’ plan, with the aim of councillors discussing proposals at the end of 2020.
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