Clean Air Zones: Oxford and York emission charging zones announced

Two English county towns announce plans to launch emission charging in their city centres before the end of 2020

Oxford and York have announced details of the Clean Air Zones they plan to implement in their city centres this year.

Oxford City Council and Oxfordshire County Council have agreed a plan that would see a zero emission zone known as the ‘Red Zone’ rolled out to five streets in Oxford city centre from 1 December, with motorists not driving a zero emission vehicle (i.e. a fully electric or hydrogen-powered car) between the hours of 7am and 7pm charged £10.

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Until December 2024, the councils say various discounts will be implemented for Blue Badge holders and businesses registered within the Red Zone, while residents living in the Red Zone will be given a 90 per cent discount until December 2030. Meanwhile, buses and taxis within the city have an agreed timeline to move to zero-emission fleets.

In addition to the Red Zone, a ‘Green Zone’ will be introduced across the rest of the city centre in 2021 or 2022. This wider area will be free for zero emission vehicles to access, while cars that comply with London’s ULEZ standards (Euro 4 petrols and Euro 6 diesels) will be given a discount.

York’s plan, meanwhile, focuses more on buses. The northern city wants buses that enter its Clean Air Zone five or more times a day to meet ULEB (Ultra-Low Emission Bus) standards (Euro 6 diesel, gas-powered or electric).

In addition, though, City of York Council said in December 2019 that it wanted to end “non-essential” private car journeys within its medieval city centre as part of efforts to become carbon-neutral by 2030.

The idea of some sort of outright ban on private cars – with the exception of those who rely on them, such as the disabled – was proposed by a Labour councillor and received support from a majority of councillors in the authority, which is led by the Liberal Democrats and the Greens.

Bristol to ban diesel cars

In 2019, Bristol became the first UK city to approve an outright ban on diesel cars in its city centre.

The plans, which are still subject to approval from central Government, would come into effect in 2021 and see diesel cars forbidden from entering a small area of the city centre between 7am and 3pm.

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Bristol also wants to implement a Clean Air Zone over a wider area of the city, but this would not affect privately owned cars – only diesel-powered lorries, vans, buses and taxis will be made to pay a fee. Taxis and vans will be charged £9 per day, while HGV operators will have to pay £100.

Other Clean Air Zones

The full list of planned Clean Air Zones can be found here:


Aberdeen City Council is looking at options for a Low Emission Zone to be implemented in the city centre later this year.

Vehicles that do not meet the necessary criteria will be banned from entering the city centre altogether. The proposed minimum standards are Euro 6 for diesel cars, Euro 4 for petrol cars and Euro VI (roughly pre-2013) for heavy diesel-engined vehicles, such as HGVs and buses.


Having backpedalled on plans to introduce a Clean Air Zone that would have affected private cars, Bath and North East Somerset is now seeking final approval for a scheme that will only include commercial vehicles.

Set to be implemented on 4 November 2020, the scheme will see high-polluting buses, coaches and HGVs entering Bath city centre charged £100 a day, while non-Euro 6 diesel or non-Euro 4 petrol taxis, minibuses and vans will have to pay £9 a day.


Cambridge City Council claims there are 106 deaths in Cambridge and South Cambridgeshire every year related to poor air quality. The council is devising plans for a Clean Air Zone, but has published no specific details yet.


Cardiff was planning to implement a Clean Air Zone in its city centre, but the plans were rejected amid claims the scheme would merely penalise owners of older cars. Instead, the council set out a number of measures to tackle NOx, such as fitting AdBlue systems to buses.

• London ULEZ explained


Derby City Council’s preferred option for dealing with air pollution in the city is a new traffic management system. However, the council still has two sets of plans on the table for potential Clean Air Zones.

The first would use the city’s inner ring road as its boundary and would charge non-Euro 4 petrol and non-Euro 6 diesel cars and vans – as well as high-polluting HGVs, buses and coaches – for entering the city centre.

The second scheme would cover a much larger area – right out to Derby’s outer ring road. The council has admitted though that the charges would affect “many people who could not afford to purchase a new vehicle or may be unable to change their travel choices”.


Dundee City Council is consulting on plans to implement a Low Emission Zone within the boundary of the city’s inner ring road.

Petrol cars registered before 2006 and diesel cars registered before 31 August 2015, as well as older HGVs and LGVs, would be banned from the zone.


Edinburgh is still consulting on its Low Emission Zone, with the council still deciding whether to have restrictions that apply to just the city centre for all vehicles or to the whole city but only for commercial vehicles.


Glasgow’s Low Emission Zone came into effect on 31 December 2018, initially only applying to local buses.

The scheme is still being phased in, though. On 31 December 2022, all vehicles entering the city centre zone will be required to meet the relevant standards – Euro 4 for petrol cars, and Euro 6 for diesel cars and any vehicles with heavy diesel engines.


The Clean Air Zone in Leeds was due to launch on 6 January 2020, but has been delayed “due to reasons beyond the council’s control”

When it eventually does come into effect, the zone will cover most of the city, but private cars won’t be affected. High-polluting HGVs, buses, coaches and taxis will be, though. The daily charge for non-compliant vehicles will be £12.50 for taxis and minibuses, and £50 for buses and HGVs.


London’s Ultra-Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) was the first Clean Air Zone of its kind in the UK when it was introduced in 2019. It’s in force 24 hours a day, seven days a week and currently covers central London’s Congestion Charge zone, although it will be expanded on 26 October 2021 to cover all of the city inside the North and South Circular Roads.

Pre-Euro 6 diesel cars built before around 2016 and pre-Euro 4 petrol cars built before 2006 are affected, having to pay £11.50 on top of the £12.50 daily Congestion Charge. Cars built before 1979 are exempt, though.

Non-Euro 3 motorcycles also have to pay, while non-Euro VI HGVs, buses and coaches are charged £100 a day.


If given the go-ahead, Manchester’s proposed Clean Air Zone will start being phased in from 2021. It’s another scheme that wouldn’t affect private cars – just buses, coaches, HGVs, vans and taxis that are deemed to be high-polluting.

The exact boundary for the Clean Air Zone is yet to be decided, but the local authority says it would cover the whole of Greater Manchester, except for roads that form part of the Strategic Road Network managed by Highways England. The scheme would be in operation 24 hours a day, seven days a week.


Following months of consultations, local authorities in Newcastle have decided on a Clean Air Zone to implement. It’s set to come into force in 2021 and won’t affect private cars for the time being.

Meanwhile, diesel HGVs, buses and coaches that don’t meet emissions standards will have to pay £50 a day to enter the city. Petrol taxis and vans will be exempt as long as they meet Euro 4 standards.


Portsmouth had plans for a Clean Air Zone covering the whole of Portsea Island, but scaled the scheme back to just the western side, excluding the city’s international port.


Reading is another city that has indicated it could implement a Clean Air Zone in the future, but has not released any exact details.


Sheffield City Council plans to introduce a Clean Air Zone within its inner ring road and city centre in early 2021.

The proposed scheme wouldn’t affect private cars – only HGVs, buses, vans and taxis that fail to meet emissions standards. Non-compliant vans and taxis will be charged £10 a day, while HGV and bus operators will be charged £50.


Slough’s plans for a potential Clean Air Zone are still being worked up, with specific details as yet unknown.

What are your thoughts on Bristol’s ‘Clean Air Plan?’ Let us know in the comments section below…

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