Scrapping to Comply with Clean Air Regulations

Clean Air Schemes are popping up all around the UK, with many already in operation and plenty more cities in the process of organising them. As such, drivers should be aware of how much it costs to use their car in each of these traffic-heavy zones, which vehicles are exempt from paying any charges and how to tackle a journey into a Clean Air scheme city without breaking the bank.

Our Clean Air scheme guide will help you determine whether scrapping your car in favour of a more fuel-efficient model with lower emissions could be the most cost-effective way of getting from A to B.

Which Cities Already Have Clean Air Schemes?

Three Scottish cities have established schemes, but will not be enforced until 1 June 2024:

Manchester scheme under review

A Clean Air Scheme for Manchester was announced, but this was put on hold following the Coronavirus pandemic and is now subject to a review following public consultation. It is expected that any future scheme will include the following areas:

    • Bolton
    • Bury
    • Oldham
    • Rochdale
    • Salford
    • Stockport
    • Tameside
    • Trafford
    • Wigan

The Different Types of Clean Air Scheme

Some of the Clean Air schemes go by different names. At their core, they operate in the same way but can have slightly different restrictions or exemptions.

  • ULEZ (Ultra Low Emission Zone)
  • LEZ (Low Emission Zone)
  • ZEZ (Zero Emission Zone)
  • CAZ (Clean Air Zone)

The CAZ variety also contains ‘classes’ from A to D – find out more about the different types of clean air zones.

Minimum Emission Standards – What Are They?

EU regulations have impacted cars in the UK since 1992, with new vehicles needing to meet certain standards to keep down pollution levels.


  • Euro 1 – registered from 1993
  • Euro 2 – registered from 1997
  • Euro 3 – registered from 2001
  • Euro 4 – registered from 2006
  • Euro 5 – registered from 2011
  • Euro 6 – registered from 2015*

*Cars sold before September 2016 could still have a Euro 5 engine rating.


Van emission standards differ slightly from car regulations. Euro 1 began a year later, but due to the vast variety of sizes, Euro standards for vans are broken down further, into classes.

How Much Does It Cost to Enter a Clean Air Scheme Area?

If you have checked your car’s exemption status and found out that you need to pay, your next question will no doubt concern just how much you’re going to be charged. Like the regulations themselves, this differs for each Clean Air scheme area. These charges are typically under £10, but can increase to £12.50 per day (in London’s ULEZ, for example) and should you fail to pay, you’ll be faced with a fine – usually north of £100.

Which Vehicles Are Exempt?

Each Clean Air scheme area will have a slightly different list of exempt vehicle types, so it’s important to use our guide to check the zone in the location you’re travelling through.

Typical – but not nationwide – exemptions include:

  • Historic vehicles
  • Military vehicles
  • Zero emission vehicles

Our complete guide to Clean Air schemes can clarify exactly which vehicles are exempt from charges in each chargeable zone. The guide also outlines refund procedures, should you believe you’ve been charged incorrectly.

How to Scrap Your Car and Get Financial Support to Lower Emissions

Sell your old, high-emission vehicle with Scrap Car Comparison and put the cash you earn towards an electric car which could make you eligible for government grants. Not only will you be doing your bit for the environment, but you could apply for funded home improvements including electric vehicle charging points.

For more information on government-supported changes that you can make to avoid paying Clean Air scheme charges, check out more of our guide.

Beat the Scrappage Schemes and scrap anytime with Scrap Car Comparison

While it may seem tempting to wait around on the off-chance that a car scrappage scheme might be implemented in your area, you could find yourself out of pocket before long. Get ahead of the game with Scrap Car Comparison and use our industry-leading, no strings attached service.

Scrapping or Paying – What’s Better In the Long Run?

This boils down to personal preference and financial circumstances. If you’re simply commuting to a city centre office, you’ll potentially save thousands of pounds by not driving and you could even make a hefty profit on your car by selling it with Scrap Car Comparison.

Those daily payments will add up. In 2021, there were 255 ‘working days’ – if you headed into any of the most expensive cities for each of them, that’s £3,187.50 a year!

If you’ve made your mind up and want to scrap your car in favour of something cheaper and more environmentally friendly, Scrap Car Comparison can get you the best price for it. One of our scrap buyers, with bases nationwide, will even collect your car at no extra cost. So, find out how much your car could be worth using our scrap value calculator and sell it today with Scrap Car Comparison!

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