If you're worried about being hit with a fee or a fine for driving your VW Camper into a Low Emission Zone or Clean Air Zone in the UK, then this quick guide should help you identify where you can drive, where you should avoud driving, and what charges are involved.
Trying to figure out whether your campervan can enter a clean air zone? Read on, and find out!
What Are Low Emission Zones And Clean Air Zones?
Specific areas designed to reduce the airbourne pollution by disuading drivers from travelling through them, Low Emission Zones (LEZs) enforce a daily financial charge based on the vehicle type and emission levels.
London is currently the only city in the UK with an Ultra-Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ), which targets more vehicles with a lower level of emission than the LEZs. It was put in place to reduce the city's pollution and harmful nitrogen dioxide production. The ULEZ and the London LEZ are in operation 24/7, excluding Christmas day for the ULEZ.
Some cities also have Clean Air Zones (CAZs), which are similar to the LEZs and aim to discourage vehicles with high emission levels. If you drive in this zone with a van that doesn’t fit the requirements you’ll also need to pay a fee. The difference between LEZs and CAZs is, LEZs (outside of London) only affect buses, HGVs and coaches but CAZs affect a variety of vehicles based on the city’s individual rules
How To Find Out If Your Campervan Will Be Affected by LEZs and CAZs
There’s two ways you can check whether or not your campervan will be charged for driving in these areas, either manually or using online services.
Checking your logbook
You will be able to find your van's emission standard in your vehicle logbook and then you will be able to compare this against the listed minimum emission standards to see if your van meets the necessary requirements.
You can also check where you’ll need to pay any fees online, either on the gov.uk vehicle checking service or the specific city’s website. All you need for this is your vehicle's registration plate number and the site will tell you which zones you will need to pay to enter. You can also use the same websites to pay the charge after you’ve travelled in the zones.
The Cities With Low Emission Zones (LEZs)
As mentioned previously the only ULEZ currently in the UK can be found in London. Low Emission Zones cover most of the area within the M25 circular, as well as Glasgow, covering an area between the M8, the river Clyde and Glasgow Cathedral. The LEZ charges apply to larger vehicles that don’t meet the emission requirements, so you should check the government website to see if your van will be charged.
Cities with Clean Air Zones (CAZs)
Clean air zones have been set up in multiple UK cities, including Bath, Birmingham, Bradford, Bristol, Portsmouth, Sheffield and Tyneside (Newcastle and Gateshead). These CAZs are operational 24 hours a day, and everyday of the year.
Each city has its own clean air schemes so it’s worth checking your vehicle before you travel. Generally, if you have a diesel vehicle with Euro 6 emissions or above, or a Euro 4 emissions petrol vehicle, you usually won’t have to pay any fees.
There’s also a Zero Emission Zone (ZEZ) covering 9 streets in a central area of Oxford city centre. This area operates 7 days a week between the hours of 7am and 7pm and affects all but fully electric vehicles. The charge to drive a petrol or diesel vehicle costs between £2-£10 based on your vans emission levels.
Are You Able To Drive A Campervan In These Zones?
Fortunately, these zones are contained to city centres, which most likely won’t be areas you’ll often travel in your campervan, unless you live in one! If you have to travel through these areas, the emission and clean air zones don’t prevent you from driving through them, but you may have to pay a fee.
Campervans weighing over 3.5 tonnes are included in the LEZ standards and you will need to pay a daily fee if your camper doesn’t meet the Euro 6 emission levels for Nitrous Oxide (NOx) and Particulate Matter (PM), or the Euro 3 standard for Particulate Matter. The costs of driving through the LEZ in London if your van doesn’t meet the standards can range from £100-£300.
Clean air zones are separated into different categories based on what vehicle types are affected by them. These are classed A, B, C, and D with the least number of vehicle types in class A and the most in class D. These CAZ classes vary between the cities, so please be aware of this before you set off.
The vehicles have a minimum standard of Euro VI for buses, coaches and HGVs, Euro 6 for diesel and Euro 4 for petrol vans, minibuses, taxis, private hire vehicles and cars and Euro 3 for motorcycles.
Are More Emission Control Zones Coming?
There are a number of new emission control zones either planned or confirmed to be introduced in multiple UK cities. This includes 3 new LEZs in the Scottish cities of Aberdeen, Dundee and Edinburgh, which will begin to be enforced during 2024. There’s also a clean air zone proposed across Greater Manchester, but this proposal is still under review.
What Should You Do If You Live In One Of These Zones?
There are multiple national exemptions that apply to these emission control zones, some of which are national exemptions and some local exemptions differ from zone to zone.
These national exemptions include: vehicles with ultra low emissions, disabled tax class vehicles, disabled passenger tax class vehicles, military vehicles, historic vehicles, vehicles with technology accredited by the Clean Vehicle Retrofit Accreditation Scheme (CVRAS) and some agriculture vehicles.
Unfortunately, being a resident of these zones isn’t included in these national exemptions, but in most of these cities you can apply for a refund or exemption if you live in the zone.
To find out information about the local exemptions you can visit the relevant city council’s website.
About This Guide and Just Kampers
We've put together this guide on driving your camper through Low Emission Zones and Clean Air Zones to help you enjoy hitting the road in your VW without worrying about unexpected fees. This is just one of the guides which we've put together over the years, to help the Volkswagen community get the most out of their classic and modern campers.
Just Kampers was set up in 1989 as a restoration and repair workshop by Mark Reynolds, who's still leading the company today. Over the years we transformed from a workshop into a manufacturer and supplier of parts and accessories for Volkswagens old and new, as well as other makes of campervan.