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NEWCASLTE ROADS: Clean Air Zone explained

NEWCASLTE ROADS: Clean Air Zone explained

The final map of a proposed Clean Air Zone, Image: LDRS

Big changes are coming to Newcastle’s roads in 2022 in a bid to slash dangerous pollution levels.

Some high-polluting vehicles will be hit with daily tolls of up to £50 to drive into the city centre, in a bid to encourage people to upgrade to cleaner models or use sustainable modes of transport.

Here is everything you need to know about the Newcastle Clean Air Zone (CAZ):


Who will have to pay tolls?

The tolls will apply only to some older, higher-polluting vehicles.

Lorries, buses, and coaches that do not comply with emissions standards will face daily tolls of £50, while the worst polluting vans and taxis will be charged £12.50 per day.

Newer petrol vans and taxis that meet ‘Euro 4’ standards are exempt, as are ‘Euro 6’ diesels, so it is important to check what class your vehicle is in.

All HGVs, buses, and coaches must be ‘Euro 6’ to avoid the toll.

Newcastle and Gateshead councils say that the following vehicles should meet the minimum standard, therefore be exempt from tolls:

  • Taxis – Diesels registered after September 2015, petrol cars registered after 2005
  • Vans – Diesels registered after September 2016, petrol after January 2006
  • HGVs, buses, and coaches registered after 2014

No private cars will be charged at all.


When do the tolls start?

The expected launch date for the CAZ is now July 2022.

Originally, it was meant to come into force in January 2021, but was pushed back amid delays caused by a High Court battle and the Covid-19 pandemic.


Why is this happening?

Local councils were issued with a legal order from the government to cut air pollution in areas where emissions exceed legal limits, with poor air quality linked to more than 300 deaths each year on Tyneside.

The CAZ is the government’s preferred means of improving air quality in the shortest possible time and versions are already in place in Birmingham and Bath.


What area does the CAZ cover?

The toll zone is in Newcastle city centre only, including the routes in over the Tyne, Swing, High Level and Redheugh bridges.

Earlier versions of the plans included a much larger CAZ that would have also included parts of Gateshead, a stretch of the Coast Road, and up to Gosforth, but the scheme was scaled back.

Councils have also ditched the idea of halving the number of lanes on the Tyne Bridge in order to deter car journeys.


My vehicle would be charged – can I get any help to upgrade to a cleaner model?

Newcastle and Gateshead councils have confirmed that they want to offer grants that would help people and companies upgrade to newer vehicles that would not be subject to tolls.

The details of the grants have not been confirmed yet, as the government has to agree to pay for them and councils have requested £23m from ministers.

But these are the current hopes for what will be on offer:

  • Up to £3,700 for taxis and private hire vehicles;
  • Up to £4,000 for wheelchair accessible taxis and private hire vehicles;
  • Up to £20,000 for heavy goods vehicles;
  • Up to £4,500 for light goods vehicles; and
  • Up to £16,000 for buses.

It is also proposed to make the following vehicles exempt from the CAZ tolls for two years after its introduction, in order to allow people time to upgrade:

  • Commercial vehicles, taxis and private hire vehicles that are subject to a finance agreement;
  • Commercial vehicles that are registered to a business address within the CAZ, up to a maximum of two vehicles per company;
  • Community transport vehicles; and
  • Wheelchair accessible taxis and private hire vehicles.


Are there any more exemptions, aside from private cars?

Yes, there will be. The councils are proposing to make the following permanently exempt from any CAZ tolls:

  • Historic vehicles;
  • Military vehicles;
  • Vehicles that have been specially adapted, such as those modified under the Motability scheme, for use by disabled people;
  • Emergency services vehicles;
  • Agricultural and other specialist vehicles such as road rollers, gritters and snow ploughs;
  • Showmen’s vehicles;
  • Vintage buses;
  • Motor caravans.


Words: Daniel Holland, Local Democracy Reporter

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