Telematics Guides | How To Prepare Your Business For Clean Air Zones

How To Prepare Your Business For Clean Air Zones

Fri, 15 October 2021 (Updated Wed, 19 January 2022)

To reverse the impact of global warming, the UK governments have introduced several measures to minimise greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles. They have banned the sale of all new diesel and petrol cars by 2030, with hybrid cars following in 2035, as well as introducing reduced speed limits in a bid to improve the air quality.

They have also installed a charge-based system to use polluting vehicles in heavily congested areas, creating clean air zones (CAZs). In Scotland these are referred to as low emission zones (LEZs), which confusingly is also the name for several zones in England which aim to restrict pollution via other regulations.

Our guide covers all the key points about the clean air and low emission zones – the what, when and why – along with actionable tactics your business can use to prepare for the expansion of CAZS and ultra low emission zones (ULEZ).

exhaust pipe

Credit: Pixabay

What is a clean air zone?

A clean air zone is a designated area where you must pay a charge if your car doesn’t meet specific emission standards. They are designed to reduce the harmful impact vehicles have on the environment, aiming to protect air quality by lowering traffic emissions.

There are only going to be more of these zones in the UK in the coming years and your business needs to prepare for how to cope with them.

Are there any clean air zone exemptions?

Yes, vehicles that reach an EU specified emission standard will all be exempt from clean air zone charges. This includes all electric vehicles. You are also exempt if you meet the government’s minimum emission standards, which are as follows:

Buses, coaches, heavy goods vehicles- Euro VI

Vans, minibuses, taxis, private hire vehicles, cars – Euro 6 (diesel) and Euro 4 (petrol

Motorcycles – Euro 3

You can check your car’s emission status either in your logbook or via the DVLA site.

Is that different from a low emission zone (LEZ)?

Confusingly there are existing LEZs in England which regulate the usage of specific vehicles. Norwich, Brighton and Oxford have long-standing LEZs to reduce emissions from buses, whilst Oxford now also has a zero emission zone that covers every type of polluting vehicle.

As mentioned earlier, LEZ is the name for a CAZ in Scotland, and Glasgow has had one in place for their buses since December 2018. 1 June 2023 will see further restrictions from other vehicles.

What are ultra low emission zones?

Ultra low emission zones (ULEZ) are areas within London that charge a fee to the worst polluting vehicles that drive in the location. At present the ULEZ is distinct to London.

Vehicles need to meet certain emission standards to be exempt from the charge. These standards are based on the Euro emission standards.

The standards that vehicles must meet, to avoid paying a fee for entering particular areas of the city, are listed below. We explain exactly what these mean later in the article

  • Motorbikes: Euro 3.
  • Petrol cars: Euro 4.
  • Petrol minibuses: Euro 4.
  • Petrol vans: Euro 4.
  • Diesel cars: Euro 6.
  • Diesel minibuses: Euro 6.
  • Diesel vans: Euro 6.
  • Lorries: Euro VI (NOx and PM)*
  • Buses: Euro VI (NOx and PM)*
  • Coaches: Euro VI (NOx and PM)*

*NOx = Nitrogen Oxides; PM = Particulate Matter

The fees for using the ULEZ are as follows:

  1. £12.50 per day for motorcycles, cars and vans
  2. £100 per day for buses, coaches and lorries

Why have clean air zones been introduced?

The simple reason for introducing clean air zones is that they’re designed to reduce air pollution and tackle the effects of climate change.

Transport is responsible for around 20% of global carbon dioxide (CO₂) emissions. CO₂ is the single greatest contributor to global warming, so by introducing low emission zones the aim is to limit the introduction of more CO₂ into the atmosphere.

Compare GPS vehicle tracking systems and telematics devices

iCompario is the free online marketplace for business products and services, where managers and owners can research and rapidly compare fuel cards, vehicle tracking systems, insurance, telecoms and other essentials. The team follows up online queries by telephone, so every site visitor finds their ideal, future-proof product at the best price possible.

Sustainability is already a huge issue for businesses and it’s only going to become more important, as the climate crisis is a matter of urgency for governments across the world.

Telematics technology can help your business to become more sustainable, by helping you to change driving behaviours to reduce the amount of fuel your company uses. You can find out more about how this technology can help your business by visiting our telematics pages.

Where are the clean air zones in the UK?

London, Bath, Birmingham and Portsmouth already have CAZs in place, whilst as mentioned previously Brighton, Norwich, Oxford and Glasgow have LEZs. However, the following cities are introducing CAZs in the future:

  • Bristol – scheduled for Summer 2022 – further info
  • Bradford – scheduled for Spring 2022 – further info
  • Liverpool – no fixed date yet
  • Manchester – scheduled for May 30th 2022 – further info
  • Newcastle – scheduled for July 2022 – further info
  • Sheffield – no fixed date, but expected to be late 2022

You can learn more about the cities that already have, and that are proposing, CAZ by visiting this government web page.

Certain cities, including Leeds and Leicester had planned to introduce the zones but have reduced emissions enough to avoid doing so, for the time being. We are still likely to see other cities introduce clean air zone charges. This is something driven and directed by the government, with the BBC reporting that the government has told “28 more councils to draw up plans to tackle NO2 levels and a further 33 to carry out ‘feasibility studies’ on whether a CAZ was needed to reduce levels in the “shortest possible time”.

When does the low emission zone expansion happen?

London introduced a low emission zone on 4 February 2008. This covers most of Greater London and operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

October 2017 saw further development of London’s commitment to cutting emissions. This development was the introduction of a £10 toxicity charge (T-charge) by Mayor Sadiq Khan. The T-charge was levied on vehicles operating within Central London.

The T-charge was replaced by the introduction of an ultra low emission zone (ULEZ) on 8 April 2019. The ULEZ charges a fee of £12.50 for motorcycles, cars and vans that do not meet the emissions standards, with buses, coaches and lorries (and other specialist vehicles of this type) hit with a £100 per day charge.

To further combat the emissions produced by vehicles driving in London, the ULEZ was expanded on 25 October 2021. The new ULEZ covers a much wider area, incorporating many boroughs outside Central London.

Which London boroughs will be affected by ULEZ expansion?

London’s ULEZ will be expanded on 25 October 2021. This expansion sees the ULEZ moved beyond Central London (Westminster and the City of London) and into surrounding London boroughs.

The expanded ULEZ creates a much larger area, one that covers the South Circular Road (A205) and North Circular Road (A406). These are the London boroughs affected by ULEZ expansion on 25 October 2021:

  • Barnet
  • Brent
  • Camden
  • Ealing
  • Enfield
  • Greenwich
  • Hackney
  • Hammersmith and Fulham
  • Haringey
  • Hounslow
  • Islington
  • Kensington and Chelsea
  • Lambeth
  • Lewisham
  • Newham
  • Redbridge
  • Richmond Upon Thames
  • Southwark
  • Tower Hamlets
  • Waltham Forest
  • Wandsworth

What do ultra low emission zones mean for petrol vehicles?

The ULEZ means petrol vehicles will have to pay a fee for driving in certain areas if they don’t meet specific emission standards.

As London is the only city to have a ULEZ at the time of writing, ULEZ means that petrol cars need to meet the petrol Euro 4 requirements from the Euro emission standards.

This means petrol cars, minibuses and vans must meet the following standards to avoid paying the £12.50 per day ULEZ charge:

  • THC: 0.10g/km*
  • NOx: 0.08g/km**
  • CO: 1.0g/km***

*THC = Total Hydro Carbon

**NOx = Nitrogen Oxides

***CO = Carbon Monoxide

If your vehicle was newly registered from 1st January 2006 then it will meet the Euro 4 standards.

What do ultra low emission zones mean for diesel vehicles?

Ultra low emission zones (ULEZ) mean diesel vehicles are required to pay a fee for driving in specific areas if they fail to meet certain Euro emission standards.

London is the sole UK city to have introduced a ULEZ at the time of writing, which means diesel cars, minibuses and vans must meet the Euro 6 requirements.

These are the Euro 6 requirements for diesel vehicles:

  • HC + NOx: 0.17g/km*
  • NOx: 0.08g/km**
  • PM: 0.005g/km***
  • PN [#/km]: 6.0×10 ^11/km****
  • CO: 0.50g/km*****

*HC = Hydrocarbons

**NOx = Nitrogen Oxides

***PM = Particulate Matter

****PN = Particle Number

*****CO = Carbon Monoxide

If your vehicle was newly registered from 1st September 2015 then it should meet the Euro 6 standards. There are some exceptions to this rule, as this guide explains. If you’re uncertain about whether your vehicle meets Euro 6 standards, then check with the manufacturer.

How to prepare your business for the expansion of ULEZ

If your business is affected by the expansion of the ULEZ then it’s important you take steps to prepare for the changes.

These are the five preparatory measures you can take:

  • Avoid city centres
  • Go electric
  • Use the CVRAS
  • eCargo bikes
  • Use the EST freight portal

We explain each of these measures in more detail in the following sections.

Avoid city centres

This is business dependent, but if you don’t need to be in a city centre, and you use vehicles that will be subject to a charge for using them, then avoid these areas.

If you do need to use city centres, then see if your business model can be tweaked. For example, it might be that work required in city centres can be outsourced and the ULEZ charge passed on to the company you use for this.

Go electric

Electric vehicles (EVs) don’t have to pay any ULEZ charges. Going electric means you avoid the financial impact of ULEZ.

At present, there is a great choice of electric cars, motorcycles and vans on the market. You can get government grants for electric vehicles, which can help your business with the cost of moving away from fossil fuel.

While the technology for electric trucks is developing at pace, the availability of heavy goods electric vehicles (HGEVs) is still some way behind that of motorcycles, cars and vans.

One thing you can do to help your business while you wait for more HGEVs to become available is to use telematics devices in your lorries and trucks.

There are two benefits. Firstly, you can use telematics to plan different routes for your drivers to avoid ULEZ, re-route them in real time if they run into traffic and even see on a live map where they are and a snail trail of where they have been, to make sure they are avoiding ULEZ fines.

Secondly, telematics systems provide a range of data on driving behaviours, which you can use to reduce fuel consumption. Your company won’t avoid ULEZ charges, but it will be more environmentally friendly and economical, something that can boost the reputation of your business with your customers.

Find out more about how telematics can help your business to be more sustainable.

Use the Clean Vehicle Retrofit Accreditation Scheme

The Clean Vehicle Retrofit Accreditation Scheme (CVRAS) is for companies that use big vehicles that can’t be replaced with a low emission alternative. The scheme looks at refitting vehicles with greener engines, making them less harmful to the environment.

Many local authorities with a clean air zone (CAZ) offer grants to businesses to help them make their vehicles greener as part of CVRAS. Get in touch with your local authority to find out if your business is eligible for a grant.

eCargo bikes

eCargo bikes are bicycles that are built to carry loads and use an electric motor to do so, with a key detail of these vehicles being that they have no tailpipe emissions. These bikes are already a common sight on the streets of London.

If your company delivers goods, you can prepare for ULEZ by moving towards a business model that uses eCargo bikes to carry items to your customers.

The Department for Transport (DfT) has made £2 million of funding available to help companies purchase eCargo bikes. You can find out more about the funding available by visiting this web page.

Seek advice from the Energy Saving Trust advice freight portal

The Energy Saving Trust (EST) is an organisation that provides guidance and information to freight operators to help them meet the government’s Road to Zero strategy, which seeks to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from 2015 levels by 15% by 2025.

There’s lots of helpful information on the EST website. The EST case studies provide real-life tactics used by businesses to reduce their carbon footprint, with these being some of the examples your company can learn from:

  • Providing solar solutions to reduce emissions at TRAILAR
  • Driver training and vehicle choice at O’Donovan Waste Disposal
  • New vehicles and telematics systems at Bibby Distribution
  • Electrification and charging infrastructure upgrade at UPS
  • Trialling biomethane to reduce greenhouse gas emissions at Howard Tenens

Telematics is something else highlighted by the EST. The organisation notes the benefit of telematics as being that “drivers prone to harsh braking and acceleration can be targeted with additional training, or routes can be planned and optimised to save time and fuel”.

Optimising your fuel usage can reduce the level of emissions your business produces, reducing the impact your company has on the environment.

Compare GPS vehicle tracking systems and telematics devices

iCompario is the free online marketplace for business products and services, where managers and owners can research and rapidly compare fuel cards, vehicle tracking systems, insurance, telecoms and other essentials. The team follows up online queries by telephone, so every site visitor finds their ideal, future-proof product at the best price possible.

Sustainability is already a huge issue for businesses and it’s only going to become more important, as the climate crisis is a matter of urgency for governments across the world.

Telematics technology can help your business to become more sustainable, by helping you to change driving behaviours to reduce the amount of fuel your company uses. You can find out more about how this technology can help your business by visiting our telematics pages.

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