The introduction of clean air zones (CAZ) in Leeds, Birmingham and other cities across the UK has been pushed back from the original start date of January 2019.

What are the clean air zones?

We covered them in detail in this post, but clean air zones are part of the UK government’s “Road to Zero” strategy. The strategy sets forth ambitious targets for ultra-low emissions and zero-emissions vehicles. It aims to tackle air pollution in the areas where it reaches legal limits. Clean air zones are in place to encourage local authorities in those worst-affected areas to incentivise the move to low emissions vehicles. Local authorities can put tailored local measures in place, as they see fit. The Clean Air Zones are meant to discourage the use of older, heavily-polluting vehicles, and improve air quality in the UK.

Why have the clean air zones been delayed?

Leeds and Birmingham City Councils released a joint statement on 18th June. They say it is “due to government delay in delivering digital systems required to make the zones operational and enforceable”. The technology needed to enforce CAZ was due in October this year but is now delayed until the end of December. This is too late to have it in place for the January start date. In a statement, Deputy Leader for Leeds City Council, Councillor James Lewis, said:

“It is extremely disappointing that Leeds has been forced to delay the introduction of one of the UK’s first clean air zones because of the government’s failure to meet its own commitments to the two largest local authorities… The council believes that tackling air pollution to protect the health of everyone in our city is an important priority. Therefore we will continue to do everything possible to mitigate this delay to the best of our own ability and by continuing to work closely with the government. Despite this delay, we will continue to financially support owners of affected vehicles switching to less polluting models that will not be charged, as doing so is the best way to improve air quality prior to the charging zone’s introduction. As planned, we will also begin to install the camera infrastructure required for the zone within the next few weeks”.

While the delay is disappointing, it does at least give businesses more time to prepare for the CAZ.

Should you still prepare for clean air zones?


Preparing your vehicles for the CAZ essentially means improving the efficiency of your fleet. There are many compelling reasons for moving towards ultra-low-emissions vehicles and electric vehicles. We covered ULEVs & compliance with Euro VI regulations in this post, and this post outlines some of the impacts of low- and zero-emissions vehicles. Here’s why preparing for clean air zones is a good idea (even if enforcement of the zones is delayed):

Environmental responsibility

The whole point of implementing clean air zones in the UK is to improve air quality in the most polluted areas.

UK commerce & industry rely on the transport sector – it is hugely important to the national economy. There is no escaping the fact though, that we are in the midst of a climate crisis. The transport sector is now the largest contributor to UK emissions, accounting for 28% of greenhouse gas emissions in the UK.

From an environmental and CSR standpoint, businesses have a duty to reduce emissions.

Business & ROI

Purely from a financial standpoint, emissions reduction makes good business sense.

For most businesses, preparation for the CAZ equates to emissions reduction. The steps you’ll take to reduce emissions mean that your fleet will run more efficiently. Efficient fleets spend less time on the road, with lower fuel and maintenance costs.

Any investment in Euro VI emissions compliance can lead to a significant ROI. You can benefit from lower day-to-day running costs and overall lifecycle costs. Additionally, many businesses can enjoy government incentives such as tax benefits and funding schemes when they invest in ULEVs and other emission-reduction technology.

Future CAZ enforcement

The announcement also made it clear that the clean air zones have not been scrapped. In Leeds and Birmingham, preparations for the CAZ are still going ahead. Even if the pressure is off, businesses will still need to be ready for CAZ regulations sometime in 2020. By preparing for CAZ now, you can stay ahead of the game, with no need to worry or make significant changes when the schemes do come into force.

How can businesses and commercial fleets reduce vehicle emissions?

In a recent video, our MD Dave Pickburn gave fleet operators some quick tips on reducing their emissions:

  • There’s no need to make huge investments right off the bat. As vehicles come to the end of their life, replace old vehicles with ULEVs, EVs and Euro VI-compliant vehicles
  • Upgrade your existing vehicles by retrofitting with technology that makes them Euro VI-compliant
  • Reducing commercial vehicle emissions can even be as simple as things like routing a vehicle sufficiently, to reduce mileage
  • It is also important, in preparing for clean air zones, to use the right vehicles in the right places. Get into the habit of assigning your least-polluting vehicles to routes in heavily built-up urban areas. You’ll contribute to improving air quality in those polluted areas, and be ready for clean-air zones whenever they come in.

Dave noted in the video that:

“Anything we can do in the logistics industry to reduce emissions is good”

Learn how Stream can help reduce emissions – with everything from efficient routing, to tracking which vehicles are compliant with Euro VI regulations, to managing routes that take EV ranges into account – by scheduling a demonstration with the team.