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As Clean Air Zones become more popular in Britain, many drivers will be worried about the financial effects they may have on them. With that in mind, Express.co.uk spoke to an expert who revealed that motorists can apply for grants and loans that can help them in getting rid of the more polluting vehicles.
Tom Hixon, Head of Instructor Support at Bill Plant Driving School, exclusively told Express.co.uk: “Clean Air Zones are an important step in encouraging cleaner transport, whether that is a less polluting vehicle, or opting to travel by bicycle or foot.
“However, the concerns surrounding the introduction of these zones are understandable.
“Firstly, it is important to note that these zones are being put in place for high-polluting vehicles, these are often older models such as any petrol vehicles made before 2006, and diesel vehicles manufactured before 2015 – however, if you are unsure about the classification of your vehicle, the Government website can help you out.
“The installation of these zones may appear daunting at first, however, grants and loans are being brought in to help those who are struggling to move to a less polluting vehicle (although this may vary based on localities).”
There are a number of local councils in the UK who are offering support to drivers and businesses.
In Bristol, the council is offering grants and loans to help people and businesses that need to replace vehicles that don’t meet the zone’s emission standards.
To get a grant or loan motorists must wait for the authority to contact them after registering their interest.
Drivers are also being warned not to sell their vehicles and buy another one privately if they want to get financial support.
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The local authority has agreed to a £42million package of support with the Government, which includes £1.8million of loans and grants to help people who need to change their vehicle, £32million for businesses to upgrade HGVs, LGVs, taxis and private hire vehicles, and £5.9million to help people switch to public transport and make more journeys by walking or cycling with free electric bike loans, cycle training and free bus tickets.
The support scheme is designed to significantly reduce the final cost of either replacing or adapting vehicles that don’t meet the zones emission standards.
For many individuals or businesses, upgrading to a vehicle that meets the zones emission standards could be a cost-effective alternative to paying the charge over the longer term.
Drivers from Newcastle and Gateshead can also apply for the Clean Air Zone grants. The application process was opened on November 21.
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Cllr Jane Byrne, cabinet member for connected city at Newcastle City Council, said: “The Clean Air Zone is being implemented to improve our air quality, protect our health and clean up our environment.
“Even though we can’t see pollution, we know that it’s there and we know it’s harmful to people, especially those with existing health conditions and those who spend a lot of time exposed to emissions while driving and sitting in traffic.
“We encourage anyone who is eligible to take advantage of the funding and support available to upgrade their vehicle and help us clean up our air.”
Similar grants are also available to drivers in Scotland. Energy Saving Trust is offering households, within a 20km (12 miles) radius of the low emission zones, up to £3,000 towards the safe disposal of non-compliant vehicles.
Low-emission zones in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Dundee are already in place. They are designed to set minimum emission standards on roads within specific areas, allowing only the cleanest vehicles to enter without being penalised.
The Low Emission Zone Support Fund, funded by Transport Scotland and administered by Energy Saving Trust, offers an incentive for low-income households to take older, more polluting vehicles off the road.
Grants of up to £3,000 are available to incentivise the disposal of non-compliant vehicles.
Some £2,000 is available to eligible households who dispose of their non-compliant vehicle at a Scottish authorised treatment facility. The applicant must live close to a Scottish low emission zone and be in receipt of specific means-tested benefits.
Travel Better incentives of up to £500 will also be made available for each adult in the household. A maximum of £1,000 per household applies.
Drivers concerned about nearby Clean Air Zones should visit their local authority’s website for more information.
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