Low Emission and Clean Air Zones
Many cities are introducing low emission or clean air zones, largely within city centres, to control vehicle emissions in the hope of improving air quality.
The UK has seen a considerable increase in the number of clean air zones (CAZ) over the last few years. A number of Club Sites are near one or you may find you’re travelling through one on your way to the campsite. If you have an older tow car or motorhome (where the vehicle doesn’t meet Euro 4 petrol or Euro 6 diesel standards for tailpipe emissions) a degree of further travel planning may be necessary.
Bath, Birmingham, Bradford, Bristol, Portsmouth, Sheffield and Tyneside (Newcastle and Gateshead) had clean air zones in place by early 2023 with others under consideration. You can find out more and check whether your vehicle complies with the restrictions on the Government website. London and Oxford also have low emission zones with slightly different restrictions and charges.
Not all CAZs are the same as the restrictions depend on the appropriate local authority’s requirements. The charges often vary depending on your vehicle and the enforcement method is automated via automatic number plate recognition (ANPR), charged by the day. The UK government’s website has list of cities with CAZs and a vehicle checking tool so you can find out whether your vehicle is compliant.
Greater London has its own system, known as the low emission zone (LEZ). This has been ratcheting up since 2007 and we expect the more recent ultra low emission zone (ULEZ) to be extended beyond the North and South Circular to the Greater London boundary during 2023. All our Club Sites will still be outside this new ULEZ, but a number of Event Sites, Certificated Sites and Listed Sites are within the zone. To check whether a particular campsite is within the LEZ or ULEZ visit the TFL website.If you find your movement within the zone incurs a charge you have a number of options:
- Fitting approved filters to your current vehicle
- Replacing your vehicle with a newer model
- Paying the daily charge
- Not entering or re-routing the zone
- Where available using a park and ride scheme or similar to enter the city
Further afield we’ve seen similar schemes being rolled out across much of western Europe. Visitors to France and Germany will be familiar with their respective Crit’Aire and Umwelt-Plakette. These are small window stickers you affix to the inside of the windscreen, on the driver’s side on a right-hand-drive vehicle. It’s worth noting the schemes are completely different. In Germany it was set up to control particulate matter, usually from older diesel engines and the zones are permanently enforced. France will activate a local CAZ if the air quality drops and remains persistently poor.
There is a good online resource where you can check the whole of Europe, urbanaccessregulations.eu has all the information you need, including maps and links to the official sources where necessary.
Where a sticker's required be be aware there are third party businesses providing this service and will add a service charge, it's prudent to check you're using the country's correct agent.
There's a smart device app available called Green Zones which can be helpful while on the move, with live information and maps. There's a basic free version or you can subscribe to a more comprehensive version. You will need to have a WiFi hotspot or be prepared to use your data to get the best from it.
It is worth noting that most zones are are city centres, however a few are whole conurbations yet in most instances the trunk roads passing through are exempted from the zones but this is now an additional check to make when route planning.