Bradford Clean Air Zone: Drivers applying for exemptions say council want 'frightening' amount of information about them

Drivers are now able to apply to exemptions to Bradford’s upcoming Clean Air Zone - although a date for the start of the scheme has still yet to be confirmed.

The zone, due to start this spring, will see the most polluting commercial vehicles, including HGVs, vans and taxis, charged for entering much of Bradford and areas of Shipley.

But some motorists will be able to apply for exemptions from the charges, and the process for applying for these permits is now live.

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Bradford Council has defended the number of details motorists are required to supply to get the exemptions, after one contacted the Local Democracy Reporting Service to say the amount of information needed was “frightening.”

Bradford City Hall

Residents and businesses that have non-compliant commercial-type vehicles, such as vans or lorries, for their own private use are eligible to be exempt from paying a charge and are able to apply.

Also amongst those exempt are campervans, motorhomes and horse-boxes.

Owners of ordinary passenger cars and motorbikes are automatically exempt.

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And local businesses can apply for up to three vehicle exemptions from CAZ charges.

Andrew Whittles, air quality director with Bradford Council, says: “The Government is introducing Clean Air Zones all over the country.

“Compared to other places, the council here has managed to secure a more extensive exemptions and grants programme from Government which means that the majority of local people will not have to pay. This is possible because around 85 per cent of commercial vehicles that are expected to enter the zone will be from outside the district.

“The zones are being introduced across England to improve air quality and the health of people who live and work there.

“The Government has not set a start date for the Clean Air Zone in the Bradford district, but it will be announced soon.

“A key message is that passenger cars and motorbikes will not be charged in the Clean Air Zone.

“In addition, any compliant vehicle - for example, a taxi owner who has bought a less polluting vehicle - will not pay a fee and you do not need to apply for an exemption.”

One motorist contacted the LDRS after applying for an exemption, saying: “The amount of personal info they are requesting to apply for an exemption is frightening. I have provided MOT, insurance, V5, utility bill, driving licence, HMRC confirmation of self-employment, income tax submission and now they are requesting a bank statement.”

A Bradford Council spokesperson said: “The evidence that is required to apply for an exemption is the same level of detail that other Clean Air Zones require across the country.

“The amount of information required varies for different vehicles and owners. Passenger cars, whether they are used for private or work purposes don’t have to provide anything, the Clean Air Zone doesn’t apply to them, they will never pay.

“Along with their vehicle details, sole traders and businesses have to provide evidence that they are a business - this can either be accounts, bank statement, tax return, company number, VAT registration number or business rates bill.

“Not all of these are needed, businesses need only to supply one of them. The list is to provide them with a choice of what they might use to evidence that they are a business.

“The Government has given instructions on systems and processes based on their experience in implementing Clean Air Zones in other cities. They have insisted that we have to have robust systems in place to ensure that only Bradford businesses and residents get the exemptions negotiated for them and that the programme is not open to abuse. Modifications to the application form have been made to allow applicants more time to submit their information.”

“A start date for the CAZ has not yet been given by the Government.”

Sheffield is also implementing a Clean Air Zone, but plans for one in Leeds have been scrapped after it was decided that the city council had 'no legal authority' to set up a scheme.