Birmingham Clean Air Zone Goes Live

1st June – The new Clean Air Zone (CAZ) will come into effect in Birmingham.

This follows the Clean Air Zone that was introduced in Bath on the 15th March of this year and the many more that will come in over the next couple of years.

In 2015, the government introduced its plans to reduce air pollution across the country. Cities may opt for either a Clean Air Zone (CAZ), (Ultra) Low Emission Zone (LEZ or ULEZ) or a Zero Emission Zone (ZEZ) where all vehicles that don’t comply will be banned.

Birmingham is implementing a CAZ. This means that all drivers of cars that don’t meet the emissions standards will have to pay to drive within the area, with a few exemptions.

Have Any Other Cities Implemented CAZs?

Bath has already started using a CAZ with Birmingham about to begin.

  1. 15 March 2021 – Bath.
  2. 1 June 2021 – Birmingham.
  3. August 2021 – trial of a ZEZ in Oxford.
  4. 25 October 2021 – London ULEZ expansion.
  5. November 2021 – Portsmouth.
  6. February – May 2022 – LEZs in Aberdeen, Glasgow, Edinburgh and Dundee.
  7. Spring 2022 – Greater Manchester.

Plans are also in place for CAZs in the following places, although dates haven’t yet been confirmed.

  • Bristol.
  • Bradford.
  • Newcastle.
  • Gateshead.
  • North Tyneside.
  • Liverpool.

Which Area Of Birmingham Will Be Affected?

The CAZ won’t affect the whole of Birmingham. Not yet, anyway.

It will – at least for now – apply only to the roads within A4540 Middleway Ring Road but not the A4540 itself.

If you use the A38 and tunnels that go through this area regularly, you should take care to ensure you aren’t being charged from Tuesday.

To see an exact map of the affected area, follow this link.

Which Cars Will Mean I Have To Pay?

You can still drive within the CAZ. However, older and more polluting vehicles will be charged.

Those affected are:

  • Diesel cars that don’t meet Euro VI.
  • Petrol cars that don’t meet Euro IV.

You can use an online checking tool to see if your car will be charged here.

Use it to see whether or not you’ll have to pay anything.

You don’t want a sudden bill turning up on the doorstep unexpectedly for your usual commute!

According to the BVRLA, cars and LGVs that don’t meet the requirements will face an £8 charge per day. HGVs that fall below the standard will face £50 per day.

How Will It Work?

The CAZ will be enforced 24/7 using ANPR (Automatic Number Plate Recognition) cameras.

You’ll have to pay using the government’s online portal if your car doesn’t meet the standards. Charges will be applied daily.

Exemptions and Incentives

For the full list of exemptions, follow this link.

Residents within the CAZ will be exempt for the first two years the zone is in operation – until the end of May 2023. This is the longest exemption available – however, residents aren’t eligible for a financial incentive.

If you work within the CAZ and own a non-compliant vehicle (use the vehicle checker), you may be able to get some financial support. To qualify, you must fall into all of the following:

  • Earn less than £30,000 per year.
  • Work for at least 18 hours per week at a location within the zone.
  • Be the registered keeper of the vehicle – it must be in your name.

Commercial vehicles registered to businesses within the CAZ will be allowed to apply for exemptions, provided they –

  • Belong to a business whose registered address is within the CAZ.
  • Don’t meet the CAZ emissions standards.

The commercial vehicle exemption can only be used on up to two vehicles and will last for up to 12 months, giving the business time to source a more suitable vehicle.

Several other classes of vehicle are also exempt, including disabled passenger tax class vehicles and historic or military vehicles. See the full list here.

Will It Work?

As long as its practical and affordable for people to upgrade their vehicles to less polluting models, yes.

It’s important to keep the air as pollutant-free as possible, yet the scheme requires drivers to be able to afford a new or new-ish vehicle. Especially in the years just after the pandemic, money may be a little hard to come by for some people. Thus, driving may become unaffordable for many. This may encourage people to use public transport rather than drive – which may be a win for air pollutants in itself.

However, the scheme may unsettle those who will struggle to afford a change of car. This will be offset by some exemptions as mentioned above.

Either way, it’s going to happen, and we should all be aware of it and make what changes we can as soon as possible. Doing this will lead to the best possible outcomes, both financially and environmentally.

It’s needed. Last year alone, about 900 people are thought to have died due to air pollution. It might be tough for a while, but it’s certainly worth it in the long run. We’ll be looking after each other and looking after the planet, too.

London Low Emission Zone Expansion

In other news, the London Low Emission Zone will be dramatically expanded on the 25th October 2021.

The zone will cover an area around 18 times larger than what’s currently affected and will reach the North and South Circular Roads.

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