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

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

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. CAZs and Low Emission Zones will soon be introduced in at least 22 cities in the UK.

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

“A Clean Air Zone is an area in which a local authority has brought measures into place to improve the air quality,” explained Neil Davies, CEO, Close Brothers Asset Finance. “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.”


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%.

Q: Are you in favour of clean air zones?

Yes No
UK Average 75% 25%
North East England 85% 15%
Greater London 85% 15%
Republic of Ireland 80% 20%
Yorkshire/Humberside 75% 25%
Northern Ireland 75% 25%
South West England 73% 27%
Wales 73% 27%
West Midlands 73% 27%
East Midlands 73% 27%
Scotland 71% 29%
East Anglia 70% 30%
South East England 67% 33%
North West England 67% 33%


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

“It’s encouraging to see hauliers so positive,” said Neil. “They are often an easy target for critics of vehicle emissions, but like everyone else they have a stake in ensuring air quality improves.”

Yes No
Print 83% 17%
Manufacturing 76% 24%
Transport & Haulage 75% 25%
Engineering 73% 27%
Construction 66% 34%


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.

Yes No
<£250K 76% 24%
£250k-£500k 68% 32%
£501k-£1m 77% 23%
£1.1m-£5m 70% 30%
£5.1m-£10m 81% 19%
>£10m 81% 19%


 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.