Clean Air Zone: Sheffield's CAZ explained, six months on from its launch
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Clean Air Zones are areas of a city where measures are in place against polluting vehicles to improve air quality.
Sheffield’s Clean Air Zone went live on February 27, 2023, and six months later on August 29, London has expanded its equivalent ‘Ultra Low Emission Zone’ (or ULEZ) to include the whole of the capital.
But not all CAZs are created equal - the up-to-date details of Sheffield’s measures can be found below.
Which drivers does the CAZ affect?
The Sheffield CAZ is ‘active’ 24 hours a day, every day of the year.
Privately owned cars, motorbikes and mopeds do not need to pay.
Buses, taxis, vans, lorries and coaches may be eligible for the CAZ charge. Owners should check their specific vehicle on the government’s website. Generally speaking, petrol vehicles made from 2006 onwards and diesel vehicles made from 2015 will be exempt, as these are less polluting.
Disabled tax class vehicles, disabled passenger tax class vehicles, and military vehicles are among those which are automatically exempt from the charge.
No vehicles are banned entirely from entering the CAZ.
Where does it cover?
The CAZ covers the city centre and the A61 inner ring road.
If you are on the road and not sure if you are driving towards the zone, keep an eye out for the green cloud sign with the ‘C’ in it.
How much does it cost and how do I pay?
Liable vans, Light Goods Vehicles and taxis will be charged £10 per day. Coaches, buses, and lorries (Heavy Good Vehicles) will be charged £50 per day. Drivers will only need to make one payment a day, regardless of how often they exit and re-enter the zone.
Charges have to be paid online through the government portal.
Payments can be made in the 13-day window, spanning from six days before and six days after the day of entering the CAZ.
If the charge is not paid within six days, a penalty of up to £120 in addition to the CAZ fee may be applied.
Why was the CAZ introduced?
In short, to reduce air pollution. The council said improving air quality will reduce the burden on health services.
Air pollution contributes to up to 500 deaths a year in Sheffield, by increasing the risk of strokes, lung cancer, cardiovascular disease, and causing permanent damage to children’s lungs.
Nitrogen dioxide (NO2), which can cause chronic lung disease, consistently exceeded legal limits in areas of Sheffield between 2018 and 2022. The CAZ had to be implemented to reach compliance quickly, according to the council.
The CAZ applies to particularly polluting vehicles, encouraging people to drive more environmentally friendly vehicles, and ultimately improve the air quality in and around the CAZ.
Whose idea was it?
In 2017, the government directed the council to implement the zone to bring nitrogen dioxide (NO2) levels within legal limits.
The main aspects of CAZ schemes are decided by the government, but fees and penalty costs are handled by the local council.
Why was it controversial?
Many people were concerned about the potential impact of the CAZ on small businesses in the city centre.
It is worth noting that although private vehicles are not charged, businesses may rely on affected vehicles such as vans and lorries for deliveries.
Which other cities are doing this?
London already had the ULEZ in place in central London, which has this week been expanded to cover the entire city.
The various CAZs have different classes which indicate how restrictive the rules are. Sheffield’s CAZ is Class C.