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Birmingham CAZ could lead to a sea change in attitudes

Birmingham’s Clean Air Zone could be a ‘catalyst for behavioural change’ says law firm BDB Pitmans. 

Next week, Birmingham City Council will implement the first Clean Air Zone (CAZ) in the UK to include private vehicles. This follows the city of Bath’s CAZ which came into effect on March 16.

BDB Pitmans, the law firm advising on the Bath and Birmingham CAZs, as well as four other major cities, has suggested that this could lead to a sea change in attitudes as more cities adopt similar schemes.

Rahul Bijlani, a legal director at BDB Pitmans, said: ‘Birmingham’s CAZ is a landmark in that it is the first scheme outside London to include private cars. It is significant not just for the undoubted air quality benefits it will bring to the people of Birmingham, but for the message it sends nationally.

‘In the future local authorities are likely to face stricter duties to take action to achieve air quality standards locally.

‘Success in Birmingham could act as a beacon to other authorities, demonstrating that a CAZ is a viable way to improve air quality at the local level and paving the way for more schemes of this kind.

‘Birmingham and Bath are both nationally-mandated zones aimed specifically at reducing NO2 to legal limits, but we are already seeing other authorities considering ambitious schemes of their own.

‘Oxfordshire, for example, is proposing the UK’s first Zero Emission Zone- focussing on electric vehicles- and schemes of this kind could play a valuable role in reducing CO2 and contributing towards the UK journey towards its net-zero target.

‘We may find ourselves looking back on the Birmingham CAZ as a pivotal moment that helped transform attitudes towards emissions-based road user charging and act as a catalyst for behavioural change across the country.’

Photo Credit – Pixabay

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Peter Lovering
3 months ago

Talk of Clean Air Zones (CAZs) is very confusing and misleading to the general public. CAZs imply that compliant vehicles produce low levels of NO2 and Particulate Matter (PM). This is true for NO2 and is a welcome initiative, but not so for PM, which has two sources; the tailpipe and the tyres and brakes known as ‘Non-Exhaust Emissions’ (NEE).
Research carried out last year indicates that NEE are more than 1,000 times PM emitted by the tailpipe, and is unregulated. Moreover, it has been shown to be a factor in the premature deaths of more than 29,000 people each year, as well as causing respiratory problems for thousabnds more.
NEE is as serious as COVID, but without the same level of response. Indeed, DEFRA produced a report in 2019, to which those in authority are turning a blind eye.
I’m a keen supporter of EVs, but like everything else, they need to be used where they will provide most benefit, and given the problem of NEE, crowded city centres are places that should be completely car-free.
Local authorities need to be clear on their definitions of CAZs so as not to mislead people, and do more to eliminate all road traffic from busy city centres.