Clean Air Zone – Applications for Funding

Mar 13 | 2023

Libby Pritchard, Associate Director at Backhouse Jones, advises on finding funding for upgrading vehicle fleets to comply with the growing number of Clean Air Zones in the UK.

Libby Pritchard, Backhouse Jones.If you are a HGV or PSV operator, you will most likely be aware of the Clean Air Zones (CAZ) being implemented around the UK, which charge non-compliant vehicles each time they pass through a designated CAZ.

To avoid being charged for driving your vehicle through a CAZ, the vehicle must meet the minimum standard of a Euro VI vehicle. Whilst funding is available for operators to upgrade or replace their non-compliant vehicles, the onerous application process and imminent deadlines are causing difficulties for many operators.

What is a Clean Air Zone?

A CAZ is an area where targeted action is taken to improve air quality and resources are prioritised and coordinated to shape the urban environment in a way that delivers improved health benefits and supports economic growth.

CAZs have been introduced with a specific focus on tackling NO2 concentrations in areas that are breaching the legal limits, as well as reducing public exposure to pollutants.

The following cities currently have clean air zones in operation: Bath, Birmingham, Bradford, Bristol, Portsmouth, Sheffield and Tyneside.


Local authorities are offering funding through grants and financial support schemes to replace or retrofit non-compliant vehicles so that they meet emission standards, and therefore avoid the charges for driving through CAZs. To apply for funding operators will need to satisfy eligibility criteria and accurately and truthfully complete applications, which will be used to evaluate their eligibility for financial support.

The deadline for submitting HGV or PSV funding applications for the Bath, Bradford and Portsmouth CAZs have expired. However, applications for funding are still open for Birmingham, Bristol, Tyneside, Sheffield, and Greater Manchester.

The eligibility requirements for funding applications differ for each CAZ and include burdensome constraints, most notably, evidencing the frequency of entry into the relevant CAZ based on current commercial operations. Furthermore, operators are required to provide substantial evidence and data when applying for funding and will need to comply with certain CAZ specific terms and conditions.

Therefore, significant importance should be placed on understanding the specific requirements and what needs to be evidenced for each funding application. This is to ensure that eligible operators are not missing out on funding intended for them due to inaccurate or non-compliant applications. Local authorities are accepting appeals for unsuccessful applications, but there is limited information available on the prospect of successful appeals and given the constraint timeframes, getting it right first time is desired.

If you believe that you may be eligible for funding to upgrade or replace your non-compliant vehicle to meet emission standards, Backhouse Jones can advise on the prospects of a successful application and can check or draft applications on your behalf. If you have already applied for funding, and this has been rejected, Backhouse Jones can also advise on the prospect of an appeal.

If you have any questions regarding the CAZs, and funding available, please contact the Backhouse Jones dispute resolution team at 01254 828300. If you would find a short online training session useful about this, please let us know at

Libby Pritchard

Libby is an associate director with Backhouse Jones with over 13 years of experience. She qualified as a solicitor in 2012 and, after working for a large national litigation firm, she joined Backhouse Jones in 2015 as a member of the Dispute Resolution team, and specialises in Commercial Litigation.

Photo: Libby Pritchard.