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Government launches clean air zone vehicle checker tool

Tristan Shale-Hester 2020-02-06 15:25

Drivers can use the online tool to see if their vehicles meet emissions standards for the Birmingham and Leeds clean air zones

The Government has launched an online tool that allows drivers to check if their vehicles meet the emissions standard requirements of the Birmingham and Leeds clean air zones.

The Birmingham clean air zone is coming into force on 1 July 2020 and will see drivers of cars not meeting Euro 4 petrol or Euro 6 diesel emissions standards being charged to enter the area within the A4540 Middleway Ring Road 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The Leeds clean air zone is coming into effect later this year and, although it won’t affect private cars, it will apply to higher-polluting HGVs, buses, coaches and taxis.

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The Government’s new online checker tool allows drivers to input their vehicle’s details and then tells them whether they will be charged to enter either of the two zones.

Although a number of other UK cities, including Bath and Sheffield, are planning to introduce clean air zones, the Department for Transport (DfT) won’t confirm or deny whether these will be added to the online checker tool in the future.

London’s ULEZ (Ultra-Low Emission Zone) is currently the UK’s only clean air zone, but drivers wanting to check if their vehicles are compliant must use the Transport for London checker tool rather than the new Government one.

The DfT describes tackling high pollution levels as a “serious challenge” and said it’s providing “financial and expert support” to local authorities to help them clean up their air.

In addition to the online vehicle checker, the Government has spent approximately £60m in Leeds and Birmingham on retrofitting buses and “support” for businesses and drivers.

Some experts, though, have questioned whether the new online checker tool works as it shoud. RAC spokesman 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.

“But 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 London's website checker, where the Ultra Low Emission Zone standard operates to the same Euro 6 standard, they will find it is compliant. This explains why the new website carries a notice that asks drivers to check back on the site closer to the time new clean air zones come in.

“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.”

What are your thoughts on clean air zones? Let us know in the comments below…

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