Governments and local authorities throughout the world are seeking ways to improve air quality in their cities. The creation of Clean Air Zones (CAZ) in several UK cities is part of this drive. London has been at the forefront of cleaner air solutions and introduced the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) in 2019.
But what’s the difference between ULEZ and CAZ and how do their charges apply? Although both policies are intended to improve air quality in their regions, they have some critical differences. We break down the key features and charges of each and look at how vehicle tracking systems help companies to control their fleet’s travel in these zones.
Understanding ULEZ and CAZ Charges
Clean Air Zones and London’s Ultra Low Emission Zone are demarcated areas that aim to restrict the pollution caused by vehicle tailpipe emissions.
The main way they achieve this is by charging high-emission vehicles a fee for entering the area.
What are ULEZ and CAZ?
ULEZ stands for Ultra Low Emission Zone. It comprises a large part of London where vehicles that are considered non-compliant are charged a fee for entering the zone.
The charge doesn’t apply to compliant vehicles.
Note: Despite being sometimes conflated, the London ultra low emission zone is different from London’s congestion charge zone, which is designed to limit congestion in central London.
CAZ refers to a Clean Air Zone. There are several recognised clean air zones in the UK. Each has slightly different rules but they are all designed to improve air quality in their cities. Drivers of non-compliant vehicles using these areas must pay a charge.
ULEZ and CAZ both use the Euro Emission Standards to determine compliance.
Cities and regions where charges are implemented
The obvious difference between ULEZ and CAZ is that ULEZ applies exclusively to London. London has had a LEZ (Low Emission Zone) since 2008. This zone applies to lorries, buses and coaches. ULEZ was an extension of LEZ and brought cars, vans, and motorbikes into the net as well.
The ULEZ currently spans the area between London’s North Circular and South Circular Roads.
What about CAZ? There are currently seven clean air zones in England:
- Tyneside (Newcastle and Gateshead)
Criteria for Compliance
Clean Air Zones (CAZ) and Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) penalise vehicles that don’t meet acceptable standards. Since manufacturers have succeeded in steadily reducing vehicle emissions, most newer vehicles are within acceptable emission standards.
Vehicles must meet or exceed the following Euro emission standards to comply:
- Euro 3 standards for motorbikes (generally bikes registered from 2007)
- Euro 4 for petrol cars and vans (generally vehicles registered from 2006)
- Euro 6 for diesel cars and vans (generally vehicles registered from 2015)
- Euro VI for buses, coaches, trucks, and lorries (generally vehicles registered from 2013)
- Euro 4 for petrol cars and vans (mostly vehicles registered from 2006)
- Euro 6 for diesel cars and vans (mostly vehicles registered from 2015)
- Euro VI for buses, coaches, and HGVs (mostly vehicles registered from 2013)
Exemptions and discounts
ULEZ: All vehicles that meet the above Euro standards are exempt. Ultra-low-emission vehicles and zero-emission vehicles like electric cars are naturally exempt.
Both London’s low-emission zone and the various clean zones across the UK grant various exemptions and discounts to certain categories of vehicles that may be non-compliant. These include:
- London black cabs
- Community transport carriers
- ‘Disabled’ class carriers
- Charity vehicles
- Classic vintage cars
- Military vehicles
- Certain agricultural vehicles
- Private hire vehicles with wheelchair access
Not all of the above necessarily enjoy grace or discount arrangements in every zone.
Financial Impact on Vehicle Owners and Fleet Operators
Owners of non-compliant, heavy-polluting vehicles will incur costs for accessing these zones. Daily fee and penalty rates differ between areas but daily charges for small motors range from £7 to £12.50.
For fleet operators with non-compliant vehicles, the financial impact of routing vehicles through low-emission zones is potentially onerous (up to £300 per vehicle daily in London).
- £12.50 a day for cars, bikes, and vans.
- £100 – £300 a day for heavier vans, diesel vehicles, HGVs, lorries, specialist heavy vehicles, buses, and coaches – dependent on what Euro emission standard the vehicle meets.
Non-payment of charges attracts penalties that run to a few hundred pounds and can exceed £1,000.
Clean Air Zones (daily):
- Bath – £9 for a small vehicle such as a taxi or £100 for a large vehicle such as a lorry over 3.5 tonnes.
- Bradford – £7 for cars, £9 for LGVs and minibuses, £50 for vehicles such as HGVs, buses, and coaches.
- Bristol – from £9 for cars and LGVs to £100 for HGVs over 3.5 tonnes.
- Birmingham – £8 for a car, taxi, or small van. £50 for larger vehicles (typically over 3.5 tonnes).
- Portsmouth – Taxis and private hires – £10. Buses, coaches, and heavy goods vehicles – £50.
- Sheffield – £10 for taxis, private hire vehicles, and LGVs. £50 for buses, coaches, and heavy goods vehicles.
- Tyneside Clean Air Zone – between £12.50 and £50.
Penalties of £120 accrue for every late payment.
There are plans to expand the ULEZ to cover all London boroughs from the end of August 2023. London has seen declining revenues from ULEZ and LEZ charges. This is put down to more vehicles becoming compliant and older polluting vehicles being phased out.
A clean air zone in Manchester is under review but appears unlikely to come online soon.
In Scotland, Glasgow has recently implemented a clean air zone that fines non-compliant vehicles for entering. Aberdeen and Edinburgh are expected to follow this example.
Role of Fleet Tracking
Geofencing and alerting fleet managers
One way for fleet operators to work with these special zones is geofencing. Geofencing is GPS-based technology that creates virtual boundaries or “geofences” around specific geographical areas. By setting up geofences within the fleet’s vehicle tracking system, the fleet manager is always aware of vehicles’ locations relative to every clean air zone.
Geofencing allows fleet managers to receive alerts when a vehicle approaches a clean air zone. This can inform a decision to enter or divert.
Routing a non-compliant fleet vehicle through a low-emission zone may be necessary. This requires timely payment.
- ULEZ: Payment is due by midnight on the third day following the journey. You can also pay up to 90 days in advance.
- CAZ: Payment is typically expected within a few days to a week of the journey.
A comprehensive vehicle tracking system provides fleet managers with all the tools and data needed to track and manage payments: geofencing, location data, route planners, and notifications.
Understanding these clean and low-emissions zones helps you to plan your journeys. At Crystal Ball, we provide an integrated software solution that includes vehicle tracking systems, 4G dash cams, and lone worker protection apps.
This software provides fleet managers with a comprehensive planning and management tool to optimise all aspects of their operations.
To learn more about how we can add value to your company’s fleet please contact our professional team at Crystal Ball.