Plans recommending a clean air zone (CAZ) in Birmingham, which will target cars, vans and trucks that don’t comply with latest emissions standards, will go before city council’s cabinet on June 26 for approval, before going out for public consultation.
Birmingham City Council is required by the Government to take action to meet legal air quality limits in the shortest possible time and, in order to achieve this, will need to introduce a CAZ by 2020.
Under the proposals for the preferred ‘Class D’ option, charges would apply to the most polluting vehicles which enter the CAZ, including buses, coaches, lorries, taxis and private hire vehicles, vans and private cars.
Buses, coaches and HGVs that meet Euro VI emissions standards, and cars, vans and taxis that meet Euro 6 (diesel) or Euro 4 (petrol) emissions standards would be exempt from any charges or restrictions.
In Birmingham, it is proposed that the CAZ should cover all roads within the A4540 Middleway ring road.
Councillor Waseem Zaffar, cabinet member for transport and environment at Birmingham City Council, said: “The biggest cause of air pollution is road transport, particularly diesel vehicles, so we need to take action to discourage the most polluting vehicles from entering the worst-hit parts of the city.
“If your vehicle meets nationally set engine emissions standards then you will not need to pay anything. This is not about making money, but saving lives – in fact, in an ideal world, no one would have to pay a clean air zone charge because everyone would be driving a low or zero-emission vehicle or walking, cycling or using public transport instead.”
The council is undertaking work to identify those most likely to be adversely affected by the introduction of a CAZ.
Furthermore, it said that the consultation will help to refine a package of measures that can be introduced to help mitigate the impact and support people to move to cleaner forms of transport.
It is estimated that poor air quality is responsible for up to 900 premature deaths in Birmingham each year. Air pollution is linked to a wide range of illnesses and conditions, including cancer, diabetes, asthma, stroke and heart disease, as well as impacting on the development of children’s lungs.
The two pollutants causing most concern in Birmingham are nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and fine airborne particulate matter (PM2.5).
An air quality debate, hosted by Birmingham City Council at the town hall and organised by British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association (BVRLA), Energy Saving Trust (EST), ACFO and Fleet News, was held earlier this year.
Delegates were invited to provide feedback and guidance about how clean air zones would affect their businesses, which the council promised to take into consideration during its CAZ discussions.
ClientEarth clean air lawyer Katie Nield said: “It’s great to see boldness from Birmingham in its commitment to putting in place a clean air zone. Clean air zones are the quickest and most effective way to clean up illegal pollution. We’ll be scrutinising the detail of the plans put forward for consultation."