Taxis and Clean Air Zones: The Facts

Taxis and Clean Air Zones: The Facts

More and more local authorities are setting up Clean Air Zones to follow the UK government green clean air policy with its commitment to reach net zero emissions by 2050. If you are a public or private hire taxi business, the introduction of Clean Air Zones and Ultra Low Emission Zones could have an impact on your business. We give an overview on what the different zones could mean to you and, if you do decide to go electric, we are here to help discuss any private or public hire taxi insurance needs. 

The roll-out of Ultra Low Emission Zones (ULEZs), Clean Air Zones (CAZs) and other pollution-reducing schemes in cities across the UK is accelerating in 2021. The UK government has a long-term commitment to improving air quality, and these zones began to be introduced from 2019. After delays due to the Covid pandemic, more zones are likely to come into force in 2021 and 2022.

The basic idea behind CAZs is similar to congestion charge zones which are springing up not only in London but across other UK cities and metropolitan areas. An area is marked out within a city, usually in or around the city centre. Vehicles travelling within this zone and judged to be excessively polluting face charges, depending on the size of the vehicle.

Larger vehicles like HGVs, coaches and buses that do not meet emissions requirements are charged around £100, although this varies between cities. Passenger cars and commercial vehicles such as vans, private hire taxis and public hackney taxis that are non-compliant to each city’s regulations can expect a charge of approximately £10 a day, usually via number plate recognition cameras positioned around the city. The CAZs will operate 24-7 and include public holidays such as Bank holidays, Christmas and Easter.

What Vehicles will be Affected by the Clean Air Zones?

Remember that each local authority can decide what level of restriction to apply.

There are four classes of Clean Air Zone:

  1.  Class A - Buses, coaches, taxis and private hire vehicles
  2.  Class B - Buses, coaches, taxis, PHVs and heavy goods vehicles (HGVs)
  3.  Class C - Buses, coaches, taxis, PHVs, HGVs and light goods vehicles (LGVs)
  4.  Class D - Buses, coaches, taxis, PHVs, HGVs LGVs and cars

Buses, coaches and HGVs that meet Euro VI emissions standards must be exempt from any charges or restrictions. Cars, vans and taxis that meet Euro 6 (diesel) or Euro 4 (petrol) emissions standards must be exempt from any charges or restrictions. Ultra-low emission vehicles with a significant zero-emission range must be exempt from and charges or restrictions. 

Since the goal of CAZs is to reduce emissions and improve air quality, zero-emissions vehicles have nothing to fear. However, drivers of vehicles that are not zero-emissions may be liable for charges. Two factors determine whether you will face a charge and at what level: firstly, how many emissions your vehicle produces and secondly, what type is it, since, depending on the CAZ class, certain types of vehicles are exempt.

For example, the city of Bath which is already CAZ live is Class C only, so regular private passenger vehicle drivers and motorbikes don’t have to pay. However non-compliant vans, taxis and minibuses are charged £9, while non-compliant trucks and lorries, and coaches and buses face a daily charge of £100.

CAZs make special exceptions for residents who live within the zone, Blue Badge holders and vehicles with a disabled tax class, although this scale varies between cities. For those in the taxi business be aware that Local authorities may set a different standard for taxis and private hire vehicles. You should always check if you will need to pay a charge or contact the local authority for more information.

You can get support to reduce your emissions and stop paying Clean Air Zone charges:

  • the Office for Zero Emission Vehicles offers some grants to help choose cleaner vehicles
  • the Go Ultra Low Campaign has information about electric vehicles, including grants to can apply for
  • the Clean Air Fund provides support to individuals and businesses

    Your local authority may provide support to help you upgrade or replace your vehicle. And getting the right private and public hire insurance for your taxi or your fleet as well as the appropriate public liability insurance will offer you greater protection whether operating within or outside the CAZ.

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