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SMEs strongly in favour of clean air zones despite potential cost impact

The UK Government is in the process of introducing strict Air Quality Standards in at least 22 UK cities, along with an Ultra-Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) in London by 2019 with other cities all due to be introducing Clean Air Zones by 2020 including; Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Dundee, Birmingham, Leeds, Derby, Nottingham and Southampton.

A Clean Air Zone is an area in which a local authority has brought measures into place to improve the air quality. Initially, it was thought that the Clean Air Zones would apply only to buses, taxis and HGVs.  However, this was widened to include non-compliant private vehicles.

With more than 40 towns and cities in the UK at or exceeding air pollution limits set by the World Health Organisation, 75% of SMEs in the UK have indicated that they are in favour of clean air zones (CAZs) to help resolve the problem.

The latest quarterly Close Brothers Business Barometer shows that firms across all sectors – regardless of size and location - are responsive to the idea of CAZs.


  • Three quarters of SMEs are in favour of clean air zones
  • 61% would be prepared to pay to enter a clean air zone
  • North East England and London businesses most positive

Firms in the North East and London were particularly positive about the idea of CAZs, with 85% of companies answering ‘yes’ to the question ‘are you in favour of clean air zones?’.

Bottom of the regional list was the North West and South East, both at 67%.


The Transport & Haulage sector mirrored the UK results, at 75%; Construction was less responsive, with 68% in favour.


Businesses with smaller turnovers were not put off by the prospect of clear air zones, despite many of them potentially being located in these areas.

Other findings

Six in every 10 business owners would be prepared to pay to enter a clean air zone if the vehicle fails to meet the required environmental standards.

Regionally, London-based businesses – at 72% saying ‘yes’ – were the most likely to pay, while Welsh firms at 49% were least likely.

At only 46% positive, businesses turning over less than £250k were least prepared to shell out to enter a CAZ.

Sector-wise, Transport & Haulage, at 61%, matched the national average.