Defra has launched a new consultation regarding the introduction of 'clean air zones' in five of the UK's major cities. Birmingham, Leeds, Nottingham, Derby and Southampton are all required to have the zones in place by 2020, but other local authorities are also able to introduce a zone should they wish to do so. Councils across the UK already have the powers to deal with air pollution, and many are choosing to use them. However, current evidence has shown that more still needs to be done to cut down nitrogen oxide levels in Britain. These zones will target areas of their respective cities where air quality problems are the most serious, in order to try and have the maximum impact and create healthier, cleaner environments. Pollution in the city centres will also be cut down and it's hoped that the zones will help encourage uptake of electric and Ultra-low emission vehicles (ULEVs) in the public and professional sectors. Older buses, taxis, coaches and lorries will be discouraged from entering the zones. Therese Coffey, the environment minister, said: 'We need to tackle air pollution and creating Clean Air Zones will improve the quality of life for people who live and work in our towns and cities, both now and in the future. 'Real progress has been made, but there is more to do, which is why we have also committed more than £2 billion to greener transport schemes since 2011.î The Clean Air Zone framework will help the local authorities across the UK provide a consistent approach and will give both businesses and individuals a clear understanding of what a zone will deliver and what the benefits will be. Further consultation is planned next year, with local authorities only able to set charges at levels designed to reduce pollution. They will be unable to raise additional revenue beyond recovering the costs of the scheme. Applications are also open for councils to bid for their share of the at least £3 million Air Quality Grant to help try and improve air quality in their region. The Impact Assessment published by Defra alongside the consultation paper stated: 'For operators of small HGV fleets, and single owner-operators, transport measures requiring them to upgrade their vehicle could pose a significant financial impact and could lead to an increase in retail prices of the goods they carry.î