Birmingham City Council’s Air Quality Action Plan proposes that motorists in the most polluting vehicles pay to enter a new, forthcoming Clean Air Zone from 2021. Why? To minimise the emissions that cause various health issues. As such, the authorities expect the charges to encourage people to buy newer, more eco-friendly models and more frequently take public transport.
How Clean Air Zone works
The Council plans to create its Clean Air Zone in the ‘most polluted area of the city’. Specifically, that is ‘all roads’ within the A4540 Middleway Ring Road (but not the Middleway itself). There is no plan to ban highly polluting vehicles from this area, but such motorists will pay once for every day they enter. The charges will apply 24 hours per day and 365 days a year.
The Air Quality Action Plan does not confirm what emission standards vehicles must meet to be exempt. However, the London Ultra Low Emission Zone has been running for a while and might provide insight. For example, petrol cars that meet Euro 4 standards are exempt. That is generally those registered from 2005 onwards. Drivers in petrol cars that fall short pay £12.50 per day.
In contrast, diesel powered cars must meet Euro 6 emission standards to be exempt. That is generally those registered from September 2015. If not, the charge is £12.50 per day. Furthermore, many larger vehicles such as lorries, concrete mixers, and snow ploughs must meet Euro 6 standards – which for them is generally from 2014 onwards – to be exempt. If not, the cost is £100 per day.
Councillor Waseem Zaffar, Cabinet Member for Transport and the Environment, said: ’The Clean Air Zone focuses on tackling air pollution in the city centre where nitrogen dioxide levels are highest. Air pollution is a major public health risk ranking alongside cancer, heart disease, and obesity and there are several routes in Birmingham where nitrogen oxide levels exceed legal guidelines. Everyone has the right to breathe clean air’, he added.
The Birmingham City Council Air Quality Action Plan proposes further measures to minimise traffic pollution. Highlights include:
- cut the number of vehicles that only contain one person
- promote alternatively fuelled vehicles that are typically less polluting than their older, traditionally fuelled equivalents.
The Action Plan also includes proposals beyond the world of motoring. For example, the local authority wants to control ‘industrial and domestic emissions’ via the ‘planning system and permits’. Such proposals will soon be subject to public consultation.