Ministers approve Birmingham’s Clean Air Zone

Ministers have approved Birmingham’s plans for a Class D charging Clean Air Zone (CAZ), which unlike another CAZs set to implemented in other cities, will charge high polluting private vehicles and taxis to enter the city centre.

The council will receive £38m from the government’s Clean Air Fund to support businesses and individuals who might be impacted by the zone, and they will get £14.2m to install signs, cameras and other infrastructure.

£38m is well below the £50m figure that the council were asking for but Cllr Waseem Zaffar, cabinet member for Transport and Environment at Birmingham City Council welcomed the allocation, saying that the council has ‘sufficient resources’ to implement the zone whilst supporting local businesses.

However, he added that in light of the reduced funding for a scrappage scheme, ‘we will continue to work with other council leaders and combined authorities across the country to lobby the government for a national diesel scrappage scheme.’

The CAZ, which will cover all roads within the A4540 Middleway ring road, is due to come into effect from January 2020, with private cars, taxis and vans paying £8 per day and HGVs, coaches and buses charged £50 per day to enter.

There will be one-year exemptions for commercial vehicles such as coaches, vans and lorries registered within the zone and one-year exemptions for coaches, vans and lorries registered in the Birmingham area and travelling into the zone which have an existing finance agreement beyond 2020. Both exemptions only apply for two vehicles per business.

There will also be two-year exemptions for individuals with non-compliant vehicles who register within the zone and one-year exemptions for visitors to healthcare services such as Birmingham Children’s Hospital.

Vans and minibuses providing community and school transport services will be able to apply for a permanent exemption.

The £38m of support from the Clean Air Fund will cover the following schemes:

  • £10.84m to provide mobility support for individuals working with the Clean Air Zone (of which at least 50 per cent must be used for a scrappage scheme);
  • £5m for a Hackney carriage support package;
  • £2.75m for a council-run Hackney carriage leasing scheme;
  • £7m for a private hire vehicle upgrade package;
  • £10.05m for an HGV and coach compliance fund;
  • £0.35m for supporting engagement and awareness activity, and
  • £1.97m to support the administrations of the above schemes and mitigations.