Councils and communities are becoming increasingly worried about the issue of air pollution and the diminishing quality of air in our cities. As a result of this, it’s looking like a lot of cities will be taking steps to follow in the footsteps of London and many other cities around Europe and implementing Clean Air Zones or ULEZ’s (Ultra-Low Emission Zones).

What is a Clean Air Zone?

It’s essentially an area in which there is a dedication to reduce air pollution. Vehicle usage will likely be restricted within this area to reduce emissions. This is to to directly tackle air pollution by reducing the number of cars on the road and encouraging the use of public transport.

It typically includes a cost for the use of vehicles that don’t meet the required standards, higher CO2 cars, vans, buses and other HGVs and LGVs will usually be subject to these charges.

Taking the proposed Low-Emission zone for Birmingham as an example, personal cars are expected to be taxed between £6 and £12. Taxis and LGVs can expect slightly higher emissions tax rates in the Clean Air Zone, whilst buses, coaches and HGVs can expect to pay more than £50 (more likely in the region of £100) per day.

Exemptions to the ruling will apply to some vehicles. Petrol cars and vans that meet Euro 4 standards (mostly those made after 2005) and diesel vehicles that meet Euro 6 standards (mostly those made after 2012) will likely not be affected.

What Does That Mean For Business?

There are obvious financial obstacles for businesses, particularly for employees commuting into or out of the city regularly for meetings or day-to-day business. There is potential in the near future for high mileage business drivers to be driving through 3 or 4 of these Clean Air Zones each day, with proposed zones in Birmingham, Nottingham, Derby, Southampton and Leeds to name just a few.On top of this, it’s looking like London’s Zone will expand to include a larger area, making it likely that these other cities will follow this as a phase 2.

One option for employers is to update the company fleet. Ensuring employees are driving ULEVs (Ultra-Low Emission Vehicles) where possible could greatly reduce potential new costs, and it is possible for employers to put in schemes with access to these as benefits, with no cost to them.

For businesses such as hauliers, it will become important to ensure that day-to-day travel is logistically as efficient as possible, as well as ensuring vehicles are well maintained to minimise pollutants.

The Good News?

It’s not all bad news for car owners though, not only will you be contributing to an effort to lower emissions in your area, but it’s also a great opportunity to get yourself into a new car. There are plenty of options for just add fuel car schemes that don’t even need a deposit so it’s the perfect opportunity for an upgrade.

Take a look at our guide for green business for some handy tips to get you started on becoming a green company.


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