What is a CAZ?

Business Insights

Leading car leasing company Rivervale has created a concise, informative blog to help explain what you need to know. A Clean Air Zone (CAZ) is an area where special measures have been implemented to help improve air quality.

This government-backed initiative is designed to discourage people from driving older vehicles which produce more emissions.

There are two different types of CAZ:

Non-charging CAZ - Vehicles driving through these areas will not be required to pay a fee. But you will notice other measures to improve air quality like cycle lanes, better public transport services and modified road layouts.

Charging CAZ - Anyone driving a vehicle that doesn’t meet the minimum emission requirements for the CAZ will be required to pay a fee.

Why are CAZ's being introduced?

In 2010, the UK committed to limiting air pollution, including harmful NO2 (nitrogen dioxide) emissions. The Government pledged to create an Air Quality Plan whenever the limits were breached.

Unfortunately, those limits have been breached every year since! As a result, the Government has produced a number of Air Quality Plans.

The 2017 publication highlighted 29 of the most polluted local authorities. The Government asked them to put together plans to reduce NO2. In 2018, 33 more local authorities were tasked with the same initiative.

CAZ's were expected to be brought in during 2020, but the global pandemic caused delays.

Why are CAZ's different between areas?

Local councillors are responsible for setting the parameters for their CAZ. Provided that the plan sets out to reduce NO2 as fast as possible, it is down to the local authority to decide whether a CAZ is needed.

If deemed necessary, they have the power to set boundaries and identify key policies. They will also decide whether it should be chargeable. A charging CAZ should only be used where non-charging measures will not improve air quality quickly enough.

As a result, different areas of the country will have different strategies for improvements. The pricing structure for charging will be different, too. In some places, a CAZ will be in place at all times, whereas others may only operate within certain hours. Being aware of the various conditions could be problematic if your fleet travels through multiple areas.

Which vehicles will be affected by CAZ?

Local authorities will have the final say on which vehicles will be charged (if any) within their CAZ. The Government has offered guidance through its Air Quality Plan. This outlines the four classes of charging CAZ's to identify which vehicles will be required to pay:

  • Class A for buses, coaches, taxis and private hire vehicles
  • Class B for Class A + HGV's
  • Class C for Class A + Class B + small vans, large vans, minibuses
  • Class D for Class A + Class B + Class C + cars, motorcycles, mopeds

(Source: Department for Transport)

Minimum emissions standards will apply within a charging CAZ, and these are based on the vehicles Euro emissions standard.

Are any CAZ’s already in operation?

Technically, London has been operating a type of CAZ for over ten years, known as the Low Emission Zone (LEZ). Older vans and lorries have had to pay to travel through the LEZ since 2008.

The Ultra-Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) in London has been in place since April 2019 and charges non-compliant vehicles £12.50 p/day. Larger vehicles like HGV’s, buses and coaches have to pay £100 per day if they don’t meet the minimum emission standards.

There are plans to extend the ULEZ to cover other London Boroughs during Autumn/Winter 2021.


A charging CAZ was introduced in March 2021.

HGV’s, buses and coaches which don’t meet the minimum emission standards have to pay £100 p/day. Taxis, vans and minibuses have to pay £9 p/day. Cars and motorcycles are currently exempt.

Which other areas plan to introduce a CAZ?


A 24-hour charging CAZ is set to be introduced in Birmingham in June 2021. The daily cost for cars and motorcycles will be £8 p/day. For larger vehicles, this will be £100 p/day. School Minibuses will be exempt.

What is the best way to manage non-compliant vehicles in my fleet?

ANPR cameras will be installed in CAZ zones to ensure compliance. With a penalty of £120 p/day, businesses with more than one vehicle are encouraged to register for the charging checker before CAZ’s go live. The charging checker will allow you to register non-compliant vehicles. You will be able to make the necessary payments either seven days in advance of travel or six days in arrears.

Find out more at https://www.rivervaleleasing.co.uk/car-leasing/