Warning over accuracy of vehicle checker for clean air zones

A Government website enabling drivers to check whether they will face charges for entering clean air zones could be providing inaccurate information, an automotive services company has claimed.

The online service launched this week so motorists who enter their registration number can find out if they are affected by the schemes.

The RAC welcomed the introduction of the new service, but warned it has “concerns about how effective this beta website currently is”.

Rod Dennis, a spokesman for the firm, said the website will tell drivers of some early vehicles with the modern Euro 6 emissions standards that they are not compliant for Birmingham’s clean air zone.

This is despite Transport for London’s online checker for its Ultra Low Emission Zone stating that the same vehicle is compliant despite London and Birmingham having the same requirements in relation to diesels, he explained.

“A number plate is not a reliable way of finding out a car’s Euro emissions standards so we recommend drivers double check with their vehicle manufacturer to be sure.”

The Government website warns users that the accuracy of the service “is always improving” and urges motorists to recheck the status of their vehicles shortly before driving into a clean air zone.

The zones will involve drivers of older vehicles being charged to enter certain areas.

Birmingham’s scheme comes into effect in July. Drivers of non-compliant vehicles will face a daily charge of £8.

A clean air zone in Leeds was due to go live last month, but has been postponed until at least July due to a delay in setting up the required infrastructure.

Further local authorities including Bath and Sheffield are bringing in the zones in 2020 and 2021.

Mr Dennis added: “There is now very little time for drivers in cities such as Birmingham with non-compliant vehicles to change them.

“Those who still need a car for essential journeys but can’t afford to switch to a compliant one will soon face daily charges as certain cities take action to clean up their air.”