Clean Air Zones

The impact of air quality and what's being done about it in the UK

Air pollution affects the health of people across the UK. According to The Royal College of Physicians (RCP) it has been estimated that air pollution causes the equivalent of 40,000 early deaths every year.

The RCP has created ‘6 steps to breathing better air’ for the general public:

Be aware of the air quality where you live
Replace old gas appliances in your home
Ensure you have an energy efficient home
Alter how you travel. Take an active travel option: bus / train / walk / cycle
Talk to your MP
Harness technology to stay informed and monitor air pollution effectively


Driving and air pollution

CO2 accounts for over 75% of air pollution. Transport is responsible for around a quarter of all CO2 emissions, with road vehicles being the main contributor. Here in the UK we are heavy users of private transport and while our travel habits are slowly changing for the better, managing vehicle emissions is key to tackling air quality across the country.

Air quality in the UK

While the government has a national strategy for tackling air quality, there is no blanket approach as the need for Clean Air Zones varies greatly throughout the UK. While some cities have, or are soon to introduce, low emission zones, there are many areas currently deemed as having acceptable levels of pollution or existing measures to reduce it.

What’s happening to improve air quality where you live?

Each region within the UK is taking a different approach to clean air, below you’ll find links to relevant websites across the country, so you can quickly refer to your nearest town or city. This way you can be sure you’re accessing up-to-date air quality information relevant to car use in your area. Some of these websites will take you to established clean air projects or campaigns, while some are pages within councils’ websites that simply explain their air quality policies.

Jump to the list of cities and towns >

What is a Clean Air Zone?

A Clean Air Zone, or Low Emission Zone, is an area where targeted action is taken to improve air quality. There are often charges to drive in the zones. Whether a vehicle is charged usually depends on the type of vehicle, what it is being used for and its level of emissions.

Helpful resources

Air pollution forecast

Defra and UK AIR’s online tool lets you check the air pollution forecast for any area in the UK. It works much like a weather forecast, you can see the national forecast as well as a local one when you enter a location.

Clean Air Zone charges

The government’s online Clean Air Zone checker helps drivers prepare for travelling in or through Clean Air Zones. All you have to do is enter your vehicle’s registration number to find out if there will be a charge to drive that vehicle in any UK Clean Air Zone. Cities will automatically be added as their schemes are launched, so you can be sure you won’t miss any active area.

Vehicle emissions

Whether or not there are air quality improvement measures in your region, you may want to know what emissions your vehicle, or a vehicle you wish to purchase, is responsible for. We have a step-by-step guide to show you how to find out.

Scrappage schemes

If you’re thinking of switching to a more environmentally-friendly vehicle, see CarTakeBack’s Scrappage Scheme Comparison to see what schemes are available in your area.

Local car recycling

There will always be a local CarTakeBack recycling centre that can help with the responsible recycling of your old car. You can start with our instant quote service and your car will automatically be collected by a local CarTakeBack service.

Air quality improvement plans in the UK

Click a city to find out more about its plans in relation to improving air quality.




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