Will you be charged in a UK clean air zone? Online vehicle checker launched by government

Will you be charged in a UK clean air zone? Online vehicle checker launched by government
A clean air zone checker aimed at shielding drivers from surprise charges has been launched by the government.

The online tool lets motorists check their vehicle against criteria for the looming Leeds and Birmingham clean air initiatives.

Clean air checker users are asked to provide number plate details before confirming if their car is used as a taxi and selecting the cities they plan to drive in.

Once all necessary information is entered, the tool outlines any charges motorists can expect to pay.

However, the RAC has discovered that the new system does not yet always give a reliable indication as to whether certain cars can or can’t enter clean air zones without being charged.

RAC spokesperson Rod Dennis said: “With the first clean air zones outside London coming into force this summer, it’s essential drivers can quickly and easily find out if their car is affected.

“We’ve been calling for an online emissions checker for more than two years, so this is a step in the right direction.”

“We do have some concerns about how effective this ‘beta’ website currently is in checking the compliance of every vehicle.

“Drivers of some early Euro 6 diesel vehicles for example will face a strange situation where this website tells them their car is not compliant for Birmingham’s clean air zone. But if they were to use the London checker, where the Ultra-Low Emission Zone standard operates to the same Euro 6 standard, they will find it is compliant.”

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A notice on the website asks drivers to check back on the site closer to the time new clean air zones come in.

Mr Dennis added: “In short, a number plate is not a reliable way of finding out a car’s Euro emissions standards so we recommend drivers double-check with their vehicle manufacturer to be sure.

“There is now very little time for drivers in cities such as Birmingham with non-compliant vehicles to change them. Those who still need a car for essential journeys but can’t afford to switch to a compliant one will soon face daily charges as certain cities take action to clean up their air.”

Leeds City Council will enforce a ‘Class B’ clean air zone later this year targeting older buses, coaches, taxis, private hire vehicles and heavy goods vehicles (HGVs).

Meanwhile, Birmingham City Council will introduce a ‘Class D’ zone, with charges extended to some vans and private cars.

It has been hinted that Bath and Sheffield could both also be covered on the checker, as they each plan to introduce clean air zones in the near future.

The government has provided £60 million for Leeds and Birmingham to retrofit buses and support businesses and drivers affected by the charge.

The London ultra-low emission zone (ULEZ) has its own dedicated tool for checking charges.

Vehicle emissions have been a hot topic of late, as Boris Johnson announced on Tuesday (4th Feb) that a ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars will be brought forward five years to 2035.

EDF Energy responded to the move by highlighting the savings potential of an electric vehicle.

Philippe Commaret, deputy managing director for customers at EDF said: “Switching to an electric vehicle can also save drivers money – over £41,000 in their lifetime.”

The energy supplier’s calculations are based on a life expectancy of 81 and 8,000 miles of annual driving1

1 https://www.edfenergy.com/media-centre/news-releases/brits-could-save-more-%C2%A341000-fuel-lifetime-switching-electric-vehicle

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