Newcastle’s Clean Air Zone comes into action

Highly polluting vehicles will now face charges, as Newcastle’s Clean Air Zone (CAZ) is now in operation after launching today.

Non-compliant taxis, buses, coaches and lorries entering the city centre will be charged between £12.50 and £50 a day from now on. Private cars, motorbikes and any other vehicles which meet emission standards will not face a penalty.

The zone, which covers the city centre and routes across the Tyne, Swing, High Level and Redheugh bridges, was created in response to a government legal order to tackle high levels of nitrogen dioxide in certain areas.

Newcastle follows in the footsteps of several successful CAZ schemes, including initiatives in Birmingham, Bradford and London.

blue and white building near body of water during daytime

Initially, there were plans for private cars to be charged and for tolls to be introduced on bridges, but these were abandoned following the results of a 2019 consultation.

Newcastle City Council Leader, Nick Kemp, told the BBC: ‘Central government says we must impose a CAZ and we’re acting on the most polluting vehicles. Private cars are exempt but taxi drivers, HGV’s and buses could be liable to pay.

‘It’s not about preventing people coming into the city, it’s really about stopping unnecessary journeys through the city centre and ensuring we have better vehicles providing public service.’

CAZ’s can be effective at reducing pollution levels, with Birmingham seeing a 13% decrease in nitrogen dioxide levels within the first year of it’s launch.

Research by the Environmental Defence Fund (EDF) released in 2021 also found that even people living outside of a CAZ can gain from the effects, with people as far as Cardiff and Stoke-on-Trent benefitting from London’s CAZ.

London’s Ultra Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ) is set to expand even further this summer, while a CAZ in Sheffield is expected this February. 

Photo by Karl Moran


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