Bristol's Clean Air Zone - who will have to pay charge and who is exempt?

The Clean Air Zone (CAZ) is a designated area around the city centre, which will mean certain highly polluting vehicles will have to pay a fee each time they drive in. Credit: PA

Bristol is set to get a Clean Air Zone in October, but not every driver of a polluting vehicle will be charged to enter the zone.

The Clean Air Zone (CAZ) is a designated area around Bristol city centre, which will mean certain highly polluting vehicles will have to pay a fee each time they drive in.

Polluting cars, taxis and light goods vehicles (LGVs) face a charge of £9 a day, while larger vehicles, such as buses, coaches and heavy goods vehicles (HGVs), face a hefty £100 daily fee.

But Bristol City Council has set out some exemptions which we have detailed below:

Mandatory exemptions

The Government requires all clean air zones to waive charges for at least seven types of vehicle, according to information provided by the council. 

These are:

  • ‘historic vehicles’ (classic cars and the like) 

  • disabled passenger vehicle tax classes 78 and 85

  • diplomatic and military vehicles

  • specialist vehicles, such as cranes, farming trucks, and security vehicles used for the delivery and collection of cash and other valuables

  • ‘showman’s vehicles’ (circus trucks, for example)

  • emergency service vehicles (police cars, fire engines, ambulances)

  • motorcycles (two and three-wheelers; electric bikes not included).

  • Recovery vehicles (eg, tow trucks) are also on the Government’s exemption list but the council says this category will be “fully confirmed and explained once the preferred option is approved by Government”.

Additional exemptions sought by the council

The authority’s plans include a long list of additional exemptions from the clean air charges, for at least the first year of the scheme. 

The list must be approved by the Government, along with the other details of its proposed CAZ before it goes live.

These are:

  • People living inside the CAZ area with a non-compliant vehicleAs well as being eligible for a one-year exemption from clean air charges, the council is proposing that residents in the CAZ would be prioritised for financial support packages for vehicle upgrades, “subject to status and availability”.

  • Low income earners travelling into or out of the CAZ for work purposesThe council is proposing an exemption for people who earn less than £24,000 a year (before tax and other deductions) and no more than £12.45 per hour.

  • ‘Longer term’ visitors to hospitals in the CAZPeople using polluting vehicles to visit certain hospitals on a longer-term basis would be able to receive a permit for a set period on a case-by-case basis, if the council plans get approved.

  • People attending appointments at hospitals in the CAZAll patients attending appointments at hospitals in the city could be exempt from clean air charges.

  • Blue Badge holdersUnder the proposals, Blue Badge holders based in Bristol would need to register one vehicle to receive an exemption for a year.

  • Home to school transportThis category would apply to buses, minibuses and coaches used to carry out a home-to-school service.

  • Registered community transport vehicles with an S19 permitIf the category gets JAQU approval, the vehicle must be registered with the council and then owners/drivers must register each day they travel into the CAZ for the charge to be waived.

  • Commercial vehicles with existing ‘finance agreements’ exemptionThis category applies to companies based within the CAZ and/or those keeping or storing vehicles overnight at an address within the zone.

Credit: Amanda Cameron, Local Democracy Reporter.

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