Birmingham: Clean Air Zone Launches In June 2021

The Birmingham Clean Air Zone is due to go live on June 1st, 2021. It means drivers of polluting models will face daily charges…

Birmingham’s Clean Air Zone Launches In June

The second city is getting a clean air zone (CAZ) and it’s launching on June 1st, 2021. It means that drivers entering Birmingham will face daily charges of £8 to enter the city centre; assuming their vehicle is a pre-Euro 4 petrol or a pre-Euro 6 diesel. The fees will be in place 24/7, 365 days a year – being enforced by ANPR (automatic number plate recognition cameras). Non-compliant HGVs will face higher charges of £50 a day. However, both vans and buses that transport school children will be exempt; as will those that provide community services.

Birmingham’s CAZ  will cover all roads inside Birmingham’s A4540 Middleway ring road. The council believes that the charges will affect 25% of the vehicles that regularly enter the city. Councillor Waseem Zaffar, cabinet member for transport and environment, said the zone was being introduced because air pollution is “a public health risk”. He explained, “poor air quality remains a public health risk and a Clean Air Zone provides the city with an effective tool for tackling this issue in the shortest possible time”. Whilst road traffic dropped during the national lockdown, the councillor said volumes were “now nearly back to pre-Covid levels”.

Delays And Controversy 

Birmingham has delayed the launch of its CAZ two times already. First, it was because of vehicle-checking software. Then it was because of the chaos caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Moreover, the council has faced intense criticism from local communities who claim, ultimately, that the initiative will harm their businesses. The whole concept of CAZs has also come under fire by those who think they’ll, in effect, discriminate against some of the nation’s poorest drivers – pricing them off of the road network.

Nevertheless, air pollution is at illegal levels in many British towns and cities. Authorities have a legal requirement to make substantial improvements. Which is why a number of other cities, including London and Bath, are introducing or expanding pre-existing clean air zones. Others, like Bristol and Leeds, have either scrapped or indefinitely postponed theirs. Some authorities, including in Brighton and Kent, are even considering banning cars in some areas and pursuing pedestrianisation. Either way, it’s a tough balancing act between fighting poor air quality and winning the support of motorists and local businesses. If you have a polluting vehicle, it might be time for an upgrade (or researching your park and ride options next time you want to visit a city centre).

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