Bristol Clean Air Zone: everything you need to know as zone charges begin

Tens of thousands of drivers will be expected to pay daily charges for driving their vehicles within the Clean Air Zone from today

Bristol’s Clean Air Zone (CAZ) comes into effect today - charging older, more polluting vehicles for entering a large chunk of the city centre area and main roads leading in and out of the city. Clean Air Zone signs and cameras have been erected around the zone to let motorists know when they are approaching.

After years of speculation, and some controversy, cars, taxis and vans will be charged £9 for entering the zone while HGVs, coaches and buses not meeting the CAZ pollution criteria will have to pay £100 each day. Five CAZs are now in operation, these are Bristol, Bath, Bradford, Birmingham and Portsmouth. Greater Manchester will hold a public consultation in early 2023 on whether to introduce a CAZ while charges will begin in early 2023 for Sheffield and Tyneside.

CAZ charge payments can be made within six days before or after you travel within the zone, as well as on the day. Payments can be made online and charges cover each 24-hour period, meaning two charges are applied if you are within the zone before and after midnight during a trip. You do not need to pay the charge if your vehicle meets the pollution criteria.

The onus for paying the charges is with drivers who can check whether or not their vehicles meet the standards by using an online checker. Failure to do so could land you with a £120 fine, reduced to £60 if paid within a week plus the original £9 or £100 charge. Bristol City Council announced a six-week ‘grace period’ will be in play allowing people who should be fined the chance to pay the daily charge, avoiding the fine. Fines are paid online using a reference number included in a letter.

A trial run was held in September with the CAZ cameras put to use for the first time. Around 95,000 letters were distributed - though many were sent to drivers who lived hundreds of miles away and had never visited Bristol, creating unease around the traffic management system. The letters warned that if they made the same journey after today (November 28) they would face a CAZ charge.