Birmingham has launched England’s first clean air zone (CAZ) for private vehicles outside London in a move that will charge private cars for entering city centre space to help improve poor air quality.
In a last-minute call, the city's decision-makers delayed all charging until 14th June. When charging does begin, drivers of older polluting cars, taxis and vans who travel into the centre of Birmingham will face a daily charge of £8, while buses, coaches and HGVs will be charged £50 a day.
Around 25% of vehicles will be impacted in the city although there are temporary exemptions for commercial and community vehicles, as well as some workers and residents.
A number of cities were forced to delay their CAZ plans due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and Leeds scrapped its plans all together after the city claimed it had been able to hit its air quality targets as a results of buses, taxis and lorries switching to lower emission alternatives. Bath did introduce a CAZ in March of this year but charges only apply to commercial vehicles.
Birmingham Clean Air Zone Map
The Birmingham Clean Air Zone covers all roads within the A4540 Middleway Ring Road. However, it excludes the Ring Road itself.
Birmingham Clean Air Zone charges
Birmingham Clean Air Zone charges apply 24 hours a day, every day of the year. You pay if your car, taxi, van, coach, bus, lorry or other motorised vehicle cannot meet its applicable emission standard which is Euro 4 for a petrol car, for or Euro 6 for a diesel car. The cost is £8 a day for a car, taxi, or small van rising to £50 for a larger vehicle such as a coach over 3.5 tonnes.
How to pay
The Clean Air Zone Birmingham does not include toll booths at the roadside. Instead, the automatic number plate recognition camera system sees your vehicle, calculates its carbon emissions, then charges you if required. You can pay via the internet at https://www.gov.uk/clean-air-zones. However, if you forget to pay there is a £120 penalty. This falls to £60 if you settle within a fortnight.
Birmingham Clean Air Zone exemptions let you enter for free in a vehicle that cannot meet its emission standard via a temporary worker exemption permit. This is designed for those that live outside the charge area but work in it. To qualify, you must be the vehicle’s keeper, work at least 18 hours a week and earn no more than £30,000. You might also be exempt if you live inside the Zone.