Drivers of the most polluting vehicles now have to pay to drive into central London – and soon other towns and cities across the UK will follow suit.
Leeds and Birmingham are set to roll out similar schemes next year, while dozens of other places are considering establishing a clean air zone (CAZ). So how will they work and where else might you soon have to pay to drive?
What are clean air zones?
Put simply, CAZs are designed to cut pollution and encourage people to drive less polluting vehicles, including electric and more modern petrol and diesels.
Drivers of the most polluting vehicles can be charged up to £100 a day to enter areas where councils believe the air to be toxic – often in town and city centres.
But there are two main types of CAZs: those that charge drivers and those where there is no charge but councils promise “action to improve air quality”.
A CAZ can be applied to all vehicles or a selection, from buses, lorries, vans, taxis, private cars, to motorcycles and mopeds.
Government guidelines state that profits should then be reinvested in local transport schemes.
Why are they being rolled out now?
The UK’s highest court, the Supreme Court, ordered ministers to take immediate action to cut air pollution in 2015.
The case was brought by environmental law organisation ClientEarth, which insisted not enough was being done after the UK breached EU limits for nitrogen dioxide (NO2) – a gas produced by diesel vehicles which can decrease lung function.
In response, the government called for five cities to establish a CAZ: Birmingham, Leeds, Southampton, Nottingham and Derby. This was in addition to London’s Low Emission Zone which was established in 2008.
But the government has since lost two other court cases, also brought by ClientEarth, which said the move had not gone far enough. Read more