DEFRA has decided to review the timetable for implementing Clean Air Zones (CAZs) amidst the current Covid-19 outbreak. 

DEFRA’s Joint Air Quality Unit is reported to have written to all stating: 

We are writing to all of our stakeholders to update you on what is happening with Clean Air Zones in light of the current crisis. We understand that this is a difficult time for everybody, and that many of you are providing vital services to the UK’s response to, or have been significantly impacted by, the Covid 19 pandemic. 


Air pollution is a public health risk and has significant health impacts which can shorten lives. Improving air quality is an important part of creating healthy places for people to live and work. Although the current restrictions on movement may have resulted in short term improvements in air quality both locally and nationally, these are unlikely to endure once the crisis ends. The Government remains under a legal obligation to deliver compliance with air quality limits, measured on an annual average basis, in the shortest possible time, and is committed to delivering on this obligation. However, the national response to the current public health emergency has already impacted on a range of public functions at both local and national level and will continue to do so. In order to provide certainty to those affected by Clean Air Zones, we will work with local authorities to delay introducing Clean Air Zones until after the Covid 19 outbreak response. We will keep the timetable under review but we expect the introduction of Clean Air Zones to be no earlier than January 2021, and we will keep any delay as short as possible.

Stephen McCaffrey

Regulatory defence barrister specialising in taxi and private hire licensing law, appeals and defence.

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