Three-quarters (75%) of SMEs have suggested they support clean air zones (CAZs) as a measure to address air pollution and drive down emissions in UK towns and cities.

According to the latest quarterly Close Brothers Asset Finance Business Barometer, firms across all sectors – regardless of size or location – are positive about the introduction of CAZs.

The introduction of CAZs comes as a result of over 40 towns and cities in the UK reaching or exceeding air pollution limits set by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

London will launch its ultra-low emission zone (ULEZ) in April 2019, with five other cities including Birmingham, Derby, Leeds, Nottingham and Southampton set to follow with CAZs in 2020. A further 23 local authorities have been identified by the Government.

Asked ‘are you in favour of clean air zones?’, businesses in North East England and London answered the most positively at 85%.

The least in favour were in the North West and South East, both at 67%. Even small businesses with limited turnovers below £250k, at risk of being affected by CAZs, were in favour (76%).

However, the idea of paying to enter a clean air zone showed greater resistance. Only six in 10 business owners are prepared to pay to enter a clean air zone, even if the vehicle fails to meet environmental standards. London-based companies were most likely to contribute (72%), while businesses in Wales dropped to under half (49%). Only 46% of businesses with a turnover under £250k were in favour.