As the UK responds to the climate crisis, and the alarming levels of greenhouse gases in our environment, Clean Air Zones are seen as a strong solution to improving UK air quality.

In Greater Manchester for example, air pollution contributes to an alarming 1,200 deaths annually, yet the proposed zone aimed at improving air quality is controversial amongst local residents, as it’s feared it could cripple businesses already struggling in the wake of the pandemic or disrupt supply chains for truck businesses. Truck drivers could start getting charged as early as May 2022.

How would the zone affect you?

If you are driving a non-compliant HGV anywhere in the Greater Manchester’s 493 square-mile zone after May 2022 it would mean a daily charge of at least £60, and a further £120 fine would be applied if you were not to pay the charge on time. Van drivers will be given until 2023 to allow more time to adapt and make changes to vehicles and reduce the likelihood of you being charged for driving in the zone.

Other zones in the UK

Councils across the UK are beginning to favour the introduction of Low-Emission Zones, with Bath, Portsmouth and Leeds all having plans to introduce measures that will penalise drivers of highly polluting vehicles with the goal of improving air quality.

London’s zone which was introduced in 2019 is so far seen as a success: 77% of the vehicles recorded driving in London’s zone in 2019 are now compliant with the emissions standards, an increase from 39% recorded in 2017. Further signs of progress include the decrease of roadside nitrogen levels by 36% since its introduction.

These figures clearly show that the Clean Air Zones are effective in the journey to a zero-carbon world, but how can you as drivers get on board with these changes, which could leave you out-of-pocket by £60 per day?

The future of driving in the UK

The UK plans to ban the sale of all petrol and diesel cars by 2030 to support a switch to electric vehicles, but what happens between now and then, especially with the introduction of the often controversial Low-Emission Zones?

Drivers in Greater Manchester will be able to apply for the Clean Commercial Fund which grants a total of £87m to drivers of HGV’s and other commercial vehicles, with a potential for £12,000 towards upgrading to a newer, more efficient model of vehicle, or to service an existing one to reduce the likelihood of being charged in the zone.