A controversial Clean Air Zone in Newcastle City Centre will start fining drivers today (January 30).

The tolls to drive through the city centre are set to come into force after years of planning, but there are concerns drivers are still confused over what the rules actually mean for them.

The majority of drivers will be exempt from the charges, with only certain older and higher-polluting vehicles set to be affected.

Read more: Police tackle 'scourge' of off-road bikers - and officers have changed their tactics

Signage for the Clean Air Zone (CAZ) popped up across the city last year causing concern from many drivers that they would be charged.

The plans were delayed due to the Covid pandemic, and a High Court legal battle, and concerns about the impact they will have on people and businesses in the city.

To get more stories direct to your email basket go here 

Newcastle City Council leader Nick Kemp said: “The removal of diesel-guzzling vehicles polluting the city centre can only improve things. It is about people’s health, it is about the impact on asthma and the people who die from air pollution every year.”

Here’s everything you need to know as the Clean Air Zone comes into forced today:

Which areas are in the Clean Air Zone?

The majority of Newcastle City Centre and routes into Gateshead via the Tyne, Swing, High Level and Redheugh bridges are included in the Clean Air Zone.

See the map below for full details of the boundaries.

Will I need to pay?

From today (January 30) older and higher-polluting taxis, buses, coaches and HGVs will be subject to tolls of either £12.50 or £50 per day. All private cars are exempt.

Petrol vans and taxis that meet ‘Euro 4’ standards are exempt, as are ‘Euro 6’ diesels. All HGVs, buses and coaches must be of ‘Euro 6’ standard to avoid the toll.

Where can I check if my vehicle is exempt?

You can check if your vehicle will be fined or not by entering your registration number at gov.uk/clean-air-zones.

Are the rules changing at any point?

From July light goods vehicles (LGVs) will also be subject to the charges. There is currently “no indication” that private cars will be included later down the line, according to Newcastle City Council leader Nick Kemp.

Where can I pay?

If you have a vehicle which meets the criteria to be charged you can pay at gov.uk/clean-air-zones.

You can pay between six days before and six days after your journey.

How much will I be fined if I don’t pay?

Failure to pay will result in a penalty charge notice of £120 being issued. This will be reduced to £60 if paid within 14 days.

Where can I find more information?

More information is available on the Clean Air Zone website at http://www.breathe-cleanair.com

Read next:

If you want to read more great stories and support our journalism, why not subscribe to your Northern Echo? You can currently get unlimited access with a digital subscription for £3 for three months. Click here