The government has approved plans for a new Clean Air Zone in Birmingham, which is due to take effect from January 2020
This comes after the European Commission warned Birmingham City Council in 2017 that they could be fined £60 million if the city didn’t significantly reduce air pollution by 2020.
The new Clean Air Zone, within but not including the A4540 ring road, will result in drivers of highly-polluting vehicles paying a fee to drive within the area. Vehicles will be seen entering the zone by automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) cameras.
Drivers of petrol cars manufactured before 2006 and diesel cars manufactured before 2015 will be charged £8 to drive in the zone. A much higher proposed charge of £50 for buses and HGVs will also go ahead.
Birmingham City Council has pledged additional support for some people affected, saying: ‘If your vehicle is not CAZ compliant, and you have lived in the CAZ area since before September 2018, we are not planning to charge you to drive in the CAZ until January 2022, two years after the CAZ is introduced.’
However, Birmingham taxi drivers have protested the Clean Air Zone, saying that the newly-approved scheme is a threat to their livelihood.
In response to this concern, the council will provide up to £15 million to support Hackney Carriage and private hire drivers. It is hoped that this money will enable taxi drivers to upgrade to more environmentally friendly vehicles and avoid the potential damage of the Clean Air Zone’s charges to their businesses.
This money will come from the funds granted by the Clean Air Fund to pay for mitigation measures. Birmingham City Council has been granted £38 million out of the £50 million requested for mitigation measures, and £14.2 million out of the £17.8 million sought for implementation costs. This leaves the council short of £16 million.
The government has also denied the council’s plans to create funding-controlled parking zones just outside the Clean Air Zone. Transport and Environment Chief Councillor Waseem Zaffar has reassured residents living in the area just outside the zone that the council would find another way of preventing motorists from ‘dumping’ their cars to avoid paying charges in the Clean Air Zone.
Councillor Zaffar added: ‘Getting more than three quarters the money we asked for is substantial.’
‘I am disappointed we didn’t get 100% but we can certainly move forward in delivering this scheme this city desperately needs.’
‘It is the start of the fightback against the public health crisis in this city which causes 900 premature deaths a year.’