Clean Air Zones failing as drivers refuse to pay expensive fines with council owed more than £2.6million

Clean Air Zone sign

Taxis, minibuses and vans are charged £12.50 for entering the CAZ but fined £120 if they fail to pay the fee

Hemma Visavadia

By Hemma Visavadia

Published: 12/06/2024

- 15:24

Newcastle City Council admitted it won't recover the full accrual amount owed in fines

Drivers in a popular UK city have refused to pay the Clean Air Zone charges with the local authority owed millions in payments as a result.

In a new report, Newcastle City Council said it is owed more than £2.6million in unpaid charges related to fines from the emissions-based charging zone.

In a recent council meeting, it was outlined how not only is the council owed millions of pounds, it also expects to “not recover the full accrual amount”.

Drivers in Newcastle have been protesting the Clean Air Zone since it was rolled out in January last year across the city and in Gateshead.

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Newcastle in North East

Newcastle City Council is owed £2.6million in unpaid fines


It was put in place to improve the city’s air quality and was inspired by similar schemes in Bradford and Bristol along with the Ulez and Congestion Charge in London.

Since then, the council has struggled to enforce the CAZ system properly with many drivers simply ignoring the threat of fines.

However, reports showed that charge revenue from the Clean Air Zone for 2022/23 was £114,000 while 2023/24 was £3.44million.

The daily charges apply to non-compliant vehicles travelling within the Tyneside CAZ area, with taxis, minibuses and vans being charged £12.50, while private HGVs, trucks, lorries, coaches and buses must pay £50.

Despite this, taxi drivers are able to obtain a temporary seven-day permit for £50, allowing them to operate as normal within the charging area.

The Clean Air Zone covers most of Newcastle city centre, as well as routes over the Tyne, Swing, High Level and Redheugh Bridges. Road signage is in place on approaching routes and on the boundary of the zone.

According to the Council, all money received from payments is used towards the cost of operating the zone.

Any surplus money afteroperating costs have been met will be used to fund improvements to local transport networks.

To be CAZ compliant, petrol cars are generally those first registered as new with the DVLA after 2005, although cars that meet the standards have been available since 2001.

Diesel cars that meet the standards are those first registered with the DVLA as new after September 2015.

The charge for breaching the zone is £120 but can be reduced to £60 if payment is made within 14 days.

The CAZ system was put in place by Newcastle Council and Gateshead Council in a bid to reduce levels of pollution in certain regions.


Car emissions

Non-compliant vehicles in the area are required to pay a daily charge


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