Birmingham delays introduction of Clean Air Zone for a second time

Birmingham City Council will delay the introduction of its Clean Air Zone (CAZ) for the second time, blaming the government’s botched introduction of a vehicle checking tool.

The CAZ was due to come into effect on July 1 but it now could be pushed back to the end of summer or later, Air Quality News understands.

The government finally launched the delayed website last week (February 5) which allows drivers to find out if their vehicle will be charged to enter the CAZ. Motorists can input their vehicle’s registration number to find out if it is compliant or not.

However, the RAC raised the alarm after testing the tool and finding inaccuracies.

The Birmingham CAZ will be based on London’s Ultra Low Emission Zone standards, but the website shows that some early Euro 6 diesel vehicles are not compliant for Birmingham’s CAZ but are for the ULEZ, according to the RAC.

A Birmingham City Council spokesperson said: ‘The government has recognised the teething problems with its Clean Air Zone vehicle checker and is working to iron out any issues as quickly as possible.

‘Once those issues are resolved, there needs to be a period for motorists to check and prepare – and it has been suggested that this be a six-month period in fairness to all concerned. This remains in line with the previously-stated CAZ launch estimate of summer 2020.’

RAC spokesperson Rod Dennis said: ‘This is a confusing time for drivers so having certainty about whether they face charges or not is paramount. Anything short of a single, definitive online vehicle checker isn’t really acceptable.’

Birmingham and Leeds were set to introduce their respective CAZs on January 1, which was delayed until July 2020 because of problems with the vehicle checking tool.

Leeds City Council told Air Quality News that they will confirm their ‘go-live’ date next month.

A Leeds City Council spokesperson said: ‘In September last year we agreed with government that the launch date for the Clean Air Charging Zone would be as soon as possible after July 1 2020.  We are working with the government to finalise an exact date to go live and plan to announce this next month.

‘Financial support is still available to help owners of affected vehicles switch to cleaner models that won’t be charged and this is the best way to improve air quality in Leeds before the zone’s introduction.’

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