Q1: What are the criteria for a Clean Air Zone (CAZ) being set up - are they only created at the direction of the Secretary of State where Nitrogen Dioxide exceeds 40 micograms per cubic meter - can you confirm that no other factors, like particulates are taken into account?
A1: This is correct. No other particulates are taken into account. CAZs are specifically intended to reduce Nitrogen Dioxide levels in Directed areas below the limit values stipulated in Schedule 2 to the Air Quality Standards Regulations 2010.
Q2: How many already exist (where) or is this something that will have future effect - I note you mention “there could be up to 10 CAZ implemented”?
A2: Answer: None exist yet. Bath and Northeast Somerset are scheduled to have the first CAZ, which is planned to go live on 15 March 2021. Birmingham city centre is the next area with a CAZ planned to go live on 1 June 2021. The local authorities in the following areas will likely also have CAZs: Sheffield, Bradford, Greater Manchester, Bristol, Liverpool, Portsmouth, Tyneside, Leicester. We are currently working with these areas to refine and develop plans to bring forward CAZs. This list is subject to change as it will depend upon local evidence demonstrating that they are necessary.
Q3: Why do the Regulations include a cut-off date of March 2027?
A3: Modelling shows that we expect all local authorities to be compliant with the Air Quality Standards Regulations 2010 by this date and given that it is good practice to limit the duration of powers, we have selected this as an appropriate and safe cut-off date.
Q4: Is CAZ different from the congestion charge? Could you be charged both in London?
A4: Yes, a CAZ is different. A CAZ is similar to the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) in London, which also charges the most polluting vehicles. However, as powers related to air quality are devolved to the Mayor of London, the CAZ and ULEZ programmes are distinct and separate. There will be no CAZs in London and thus no overlap between any CAZ and the London ULEZ/congestion charge is possible.
Q5: Which vehicles are likely to be subject to the charge?
A5: There are four classes of CAZ and they charge the following non-compliant vehicles:
Class A - Buses, coaches, taxis and private hire vehicles (PHVs)
Class B - Buses, coaches, taxis, PHVs and heavy goods vehicles (HGVs)
Class C - Buses, coaches, taxis, PHVs, HGVs and light goods vehicles (LGVs)
Class D - Buses, coaches, taxis, PHVs, HGVs LGVs and cars
We expect the majority of CAZs to be class C but this level of detail has to be established, based upon local evidence, and agreed with each Directed LA before its CAZ can go live.
Q6: How much is the charge likely to be?
A6: this varies for each CAZ and is dependent on the extent of behavioural change needed, i.e. the charge is set at a level that will deter a sufficient number of motorists with non-compliant vehicles from driving into the zone, based on the level of exceedance of Nitrogen Dioxide limit values. In Bath the charge for non-compliant coaches, buses and HGVs is proposed to be £100. For taxis, private hire vehicles, minibuses and vans it will be £9 a day. Non-compliant cars will not be charged. In Birmingham the charge for non-compliant coaches, buses and HGVs is proposed to be £50 a day and £8 a day for all other vehicles (including non-compliant cars).
Q7: How many vehicles charges do you expect to be generated in a single year?
A7: The number of vehicle charges is estimated at around 3.5m in 2021-22, rising to peak of around 5.8m in 2023-24 before reducing. By 2026-27 the number is estimated to be around 1.8m.
Q8: How many schemes are there likely to be? Will the fees generate enough money to offset the costs of the Central Services - or will it be operating at a loss?
A8: We have modelled 10 CAZs going live with a number of sensitivity scenarios. We are subsidising the scheme by design and have agreed the approach with HMT. We estimate the total cost of operating the scheme to be £71.5m and in our central scenario we expect to have a shortfall of £38.7m. Note however that these numbers, and in particular the extent of reactive, positive behavioural change, are difficult to predict accurately and thus uncertain. There are significant legal and political imperatives to consider which have led us to consider that the £2 charge (rather than full cost recovery) is the optimum figure, because it minimises the risk of unnecessary delays and further litigation; allows LAs to cover their own costs and represents a reasonable proportion of costs recovery to HMG and as agreed with HMT. Previous legal challenges established a legal imperative to comply with statutory limits “within the shortest possible time”. Note that the court has been quite clear that “the obligations imposed by the 2008 Directive are not qualified by reference to their cost”, meaning that cost cannot be a barrier to meeting our legal duty.
14 December 2020