Clean Air Zone Sign

With the climate crisis showing no signs of slowing, the transport sector remains a major target for the UK’s decarbonisation efforts, as we continue our race towards Net Zero. In pursuit of that goal, a huge number of local authorities have started to enact Clean Air Zones in their cities. 

Now, we’ve spoken about Clean Air Zones before here on the blog at RAW2K, but in case you need a quick recap, it's basically a defined area that puts limits on the level of vehicle emissions that are permitted within its boundaries. If there are any vehicles that don’t meet this emissions standard, the drivers / owners will generally be charged a daily fee every time the vehicle enters (or exists within) the boundaries of the zone. There are sometimes exceptions, depending on the type of Zone – some apply blanket restrictions, whereas others only apply to specific types of vehicle. 

Even if you’re not too well-versed in Clean Air Zones at the moment, it’s going to be worth getting more familiar with them from now on, especially if you’re planning on buying any cars from our online vehicle auctions, as driving (or parking) one within a Zone can end up costing you money. And if you’re there for any extended periods of time, those charges can quickly become exponential. 

We like keeping you up to speed here at RAW2K, so in the interests of that, here’s a quick recap on the growing list of cities that are implementing their own Clean Air Zones, and what type of Zone applies to each. 

Class D Clean Air Zone

Applies to:

  • Aberdeen
  • Dundee
  • Edinburgh
  • Glasgow
  • Birmingham
  • Bristol

A Class D Clean Air Zone is the most expansive type of Clean Air Zone, encompassing consumer cars, taxis and private hire vehicles, as well as vans, HGVs, buses and coaches. The local authority can also choose to apply the Class D Zone to motorcycles, at its discretion – and indeed, some do. 

Effectively, if you know that you’re entering a Clean Air Zone with an older car (and in most cases they’ll be clearly signposted), there’s a good chance you’ll have to pay a daily charge. 

The good news is that you don’t necessarily need to worry about pulling into a layby to do it on your phone – you can pay the charge anywhere from six days before all the way up to six days after your trip. 

There’s a wide variety of cities currently implementing Class D Zones – Bristol is one of the most notable in the South of England, but there’s several in the North, as well as a couple scattered over Scotland too. 

Class C Clean Air Zone

Applies to:

  • London
  • Bath
  • Newcastle
  • Bradford
  • Sheffield

Class C Clean Air Zones give everyday drivers a bit of a breather (so to speak), as they don’t apply to most private consumer cars. However, the restrictions still apply to vehicles in the commercial or public service sectors, including buses, coaches, taxis, private hire vehicles, vans, minibuses, and HGVs. 

Clean Air Zones have been introduced to a number of cities, notably including London, which is arguably the size of several small cities in itself. In August of 2023, London’s Ultra Low Emissions Zone expanded for the final time, and now covers all 32 boroughs. Something to bear in mind in case your work or personal life ever takes you through the roads of our capital!

Class B Clean Air Zone

Applies to:

  • Portsmouth

Class B Clean Air Zones are slightly more relaxed, and only apply to commercial and public service vehicles, including buses, coaches, private hire vehicles and heavy goods vehicles. Right now, there’s only one major city with a Class B Clean Air Zone. Just like other Clean Air Zones, it’s worth noting that the applicable charges differ between various vehicle types. Private hire vehicles and taxis, for example, will only have to pay £10 for each day of being in the zone, whereas drivers (or operators) of HGVs will have to pay £50. 

Class A Clean Air Zone

Applies to:

  • York

Though you might expect Class A to be the strictest type of Clean Air Zone (given the terminology that’s usually associated with, say, illegal drugs), it may be surprising to find it’s actually the opposite – Class A Clean Air Zones are actually relatively relaxed. It applies only to buses, coaches, taxis and private hire vehicles. At the moment, there’s only one city with a Class A Clean Air Zone, which is York. However it’s worth noting that the council have previously considered expanding it further to apply to further “commercial vehicles, and if appropriate, private cars”. As you’d expect, there’s been a bit of pushback on that, so watch this space!

That’s a broad overview of the situation so far – if you need any further details, it’s worth checking the official website of the local authority for the city you’re visiting. And if you think you might have passed through a Clean Air Zone without paying, don’t forget you have up until six days later to make a retroactive payment – so no need to panic! 

And if you ever need to replace your car – whether for emissions reasons or anything else – you can always do so right here at RAW2K. We’ve got a huge range of salvage cars to choose from in our online car auctions, including not just models from the likes of Ford and Volkswagen, but also other world-famous brands like MercedesHonda, and Peugeot. Our auctions are refreshed on a daily and weekly basis, so there are always bargains to be found. Why not take a look around, and see what you can find?