What Do Clean Air Zones Mean for UK Uber Drivers?
If you’re a professional driver, you’re probably aware that vehicle emissions are a hot topic. Cities across the UK are gearing up to reduce pollution from cars, trucks, buses and taxis.
What began in London with the introduction of its central Congestion Zone in 2003, has now blossomed out to other urban areas. London’s latest Ultra Low Emission Zone, which saw its phase one launch in April this year, has become the standard that cities like Manchester, Birmingham and Leeds are racing to adopt.
Whilst London is the only city to introduce a Clean Air Zone (CAZ) so far, Manchester has a set a target for its own CAZ by 2021, whilst Birmingham and Leeds are suggesting mid-2020. However, make no mistake, regardless of when the CAZ comes to your town, the impact on professional drivers will be big. As expected, the CAZ proposals have raised many questions, such as: Will my vehicle be affected? What do I do if it is? What will it mean to me? And what can I do to offset the impact? Typically, confusion and rumour on the chat boards have been the response.
In view of this situation, we thought it was time someone laid out the facts: So, here’s the full story on Clean Air Zones and what they mean to UK Uber drivers.
What are Clean Air Zones?
They’re special city areas with strict vehicle emissions laws. Vehicles entering these zones – which operate 24/7 in London – will have to pay a fee if their exhaust gases fail to meet zone standards. London’s fee is £12.50 per day. Some vehicles, such as all-electric cars are granted an exemption from the CAZ rules, but as a class, private hire vehicles are not exempt.
Do these rules apply to all vehicles?
Yes. In London, vehicles that meet Euro 4 and 6 emissions standards are currently exempt from the ULEZ charge. Vehicles that do not reach the Euro standards and that do not have a special exemption have to pay the daily fee.
What are Euro 4 and 6 standards?
They are Europe-wide emissions rules. Petrol cars that meet London’s ULEZ standards are generally those first registered with the DVLA after 2005, although cars that meet the standards have been available since 2001. Diesel cars that meet the standards are generally those first registered with the
DVLA after September 2015.
Will my car meet the CAZ requirements?
It depends which Euro standard your vehicle was built to. TFL provides a vehicle checker where you can find out if your car qualifies or not and you can expect other cities to follow suit. You can also check with DVLA for your car’s Euro standard or consult your vehicle’s log book.
What happens if my vehicle is not exempt?
You’ll have to pay the CAZ fee. If you fail to pay, you may be subject to a fine and prosecution.
Do you pay the CAZ fee if you go in and out of the zone more than once a day?
No. You only pay once per day. In London, if you enter and exit the CAZ across the midnight cut-off, you must pay for two days access to the zone.
Can I get financial help to exchange my car for a CAZ qualifying vehicle?
Possibly. TFL currently do not offer any financial assistance for private hire drivers who wish to trade their non-exempt vehicle for a cleaner choice. However, Leeds have announced a financial support program for private hire that offers an interest-free, four-year loan of up to £10,000 or a non- repayable grant of £1,500 to offset the cost of a cleaner vehicle. Manchester and Birmingham are proposing something similar.
Lastly, be aware that Euro standards are constantly updating, and targets set by individual CAZ may change quickly. You could upgrade to a newer vehicle to meet the current rules only to find out you’ve lost your exemption if minimum emissions standards rise. One way to avoid this problem is to consider an all-electric vehicle. Uber has recently stated that in London they’ll be 100% hybrid or fully electric on UberX with no diesel cars on their app by the end of 2019. They aim to reach the same standard across the rest of the UK by 2022, with London progressing to fully electric by 2025. It looks like the future of private hire comes with batteries included.
Clean Air Zones coming to most major UK cities
Private Hire Vehicles are not exempt
Daily fees can range from £7.50 to £12.50
Fines can go as high as £160
London’s CAZ in place since April 2019
Birmingham and Leeds coming in 2020
Manchester arriving in 2021
All-electric vehicles best exempt option
SOURCES and LINKS:
London ULEZ: https://tfl.gov.uk/modes/driving/ultra-low-emission-zone/ulez-where-and-when
Manchester CAZ: https://cleanairgm.com/clean-air-plan
Birmingham CAZ: https://www.birmingham.gov.uk/info/20076/pollution/1763/a_clean_air_zone_for_birmingham
Leeds CAZ: https://www.leeds.gov.uk/business/environmental-health-for-business/air-quality/exempt-vehicles-clean-air-charging-zone
TFL vehicle checker: https://tfl.gov.uk/modes/driving/check-your-vehicle-35896
DVLA vehicle checker: https://www.gov.uk/get-vehicle-information-from-dvla
Leeds financial support for PHV: https://www.leeds.gov.uk/business/environmental-health-for-business/air-quality/support-for-taxis-and-private-hire-clean-air-charging-zone
Birmingham financial support for PHV: https://www.birmingham.gov.uk/info/20076/pollution/1763/a_clean_air_zone_for_birmingham/7