Low Emissions and Clean Air Zones

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As the London Ultra Low Emissions Zone has expanded to cover the whole of Greater London, and made headlines as it has done so, many dealers outside of the capital have suddenly become far more aware of these new zones than ever before. If you are wondering what these zones are, and what all of the acronyms mean, then Aston Barclay has put together this guide to tell you everything you need to know.

What is a Low Emissions Zone?

A Low Emission Zone or LEZ is an area, usually found in towns or cities, that deters specific types of vehicle from entering the zone, usually with the aim of lowering air pollution caused by internal combustion engine vehicles (petrols and diesels). They normally operate by charging a fee to vehicles that do not meet the required emissions standards to promote the usage of low-emission vehicles.

Most LEZs don’t actually prohibit higher-emission vehicles from entering, but instead enforce daily charges for entry. Failing to pay this fee may result in substantial financial penalties.

Where Are These LEZs?

One of the first examples of a LEZ was the London Low Emission Zone, first introduced in 2008, which covered older commercial vehicles like buses, lorries and coaches. It has since been expanded to cover all vehicles, including passenger cars and motorbikes, and now covers all Greater London boroughs. 

Many other cities and towns around the UK have introduced their own, and they now operate in big cities such as Edinburgh, Glasgow, Bristol and several others, with more schemes planned for introduction in the next three years. *Please see the list below for more details.

What Is A Clean Air Zone (CAZ)?

A CAZ is an area in a town or city where the local authority aims to reduce air pollution. Essentially, it’s a LEZ, but often on a smaller, more local scale. They also differ in that some CAZs do not charge motorists to enter them, but instead deter cars through the use of traffic management schemes or pedestrianised zones instead.

There are four classes of CAZ: A, B, C and D. They exempt various vehicles, but the emissions standards are broadly in line with the London ULEZ. The list of current CAZs in the UK is as follows:

  • Bath (type C, private cars non-chargeable)
  • Birmingham (type D, private cars are chargeable)
  • Bristol (type D, private cars are chargeable)
  • Portsmouth (type B, private cars non-chargeable)
  • Bradford (type C, private cars non-chargeable)
  • Newcastle and Gateshead (type C, private cars non-chargeable)
  • Oxford (slightly different as this is a Zero Emission Zone, but private cars are chargeable)
  • Sheffield (type C, private cars non-chargeable)
  • Glasgow (type D, private cars are chargeable)

*list correct as of 14/6/23

How do I know if a vehicle will be charged to enter a LEZ?

The easiest way to find out if a vehicle will have to pay a charge to enter a Low Emissions Zone is via the Government’s Joint Air Quality Unit website. Enter your vehicle’s registration number and this free tool will tell you if there’s a daily charge to drive your vehicle in a specific Clean Air Zone.


If you want to check your car for use in the London ULEZ, then you can use the Transport For London  website instead: https://tfl.gov.uk/modes/driving/check-your-vehicle/

What does this mean for the motor trade?

In short, the rise of LEZ and CAZs across the UK has created an opportunity for dealers in both the buying and selling of used cars. Drivers in urban areas have been encouraged out of older petrol and diesel vehicles, and into newer, cleaner models. At the same time, buyers who live in more rural areas of the UK, not subject to such charges have been enjoying access to that extra stock of models which are now on the market.

Aston Barclay’s sales have been facilitating dealers across the UK in either stocking newer and exempt vehicles, or disposing of older examples taken in part exchange which are in high demand in other parts of the country. And of course buying online means you can access the stock that best suits your local drivers who may or may not be battling against one of these new zones.

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