Birmingham’s Clean Air Zone car-checker activated
Despite being postponed from last month’s original launch date, Birmingham’s Clean Air Zone is getting closer to its July introduction. A new online checker has just been introduced, so that motorists can confirm whether, or not, they will have to pay to enter the centre of the UK’s second city.
What is Birmingham’s Clean Air Zone (CAZ)?
The CAZ penalises registered owners of older and, allegedly, more polluting cars to enter areas that fall within (but not including) the A4540 ring road. Pre-2006 petrol cars and pre-2015 diesel-powered passenger car users face fees of £8 per day. The scheme will be monitored by ANPR cameras 24 hours a day, every day.
To check whether, or not, your car is exempt, enter its registration number into the latest online checker: https://www.gov.uk/check-clean-air-zone-charge
Who is exempt from CAZ charges?
Current exemptions at the time of writing (7th February 2020) include:
- Private cars that meet the required emissions standards
- 12 months exemption for two commercial vehicles per company that are registered within the zone.
- 12 months exemption for commuters with an annual income below £30,000
- 12 months exemption for Birmingham Children’s Hospital visitors
- Vans and minibuses that provide school and community transport
- Vehicles with a disabled tax class
- Historic Vehicles
Why has the CAZ been introduced?
Since being given a final warning by the European Commission in 2017 to improve its air quality by this year, with the threat of a £60m fine if it fails to act, Birmingham’s City Council has introduced its 2031 Transport Plan. (https://www.birmingham.gov.uk/transportplan)
The CAZ is only part of the proposals – plans could extend to ban private cars altogether (https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/birmingham-private-cars-city-centre-air-pollution-climate-change-public-transport-a9281786.html). Not only does the transport plan aim to improve overall air quality but the intention is to support Birmingham’s commitment to be carbon neutral within the next decade. Importantly, and more relevant for a road safety body such as GEM, it looks to “Eliminate road danger, especially in residential areas”, as well as providing new job and training opportunities and revitalisation of the city centre. All of this sounds laudable and reasonable but Birmingham City Council has a tough job on its hands. Should it fail to succeed by not meeting its stated aims, a policy of demonising the private motorist would have failed in a most publicly and embarrassing way. Even so, doing nothing does not remain an option, as anybody who has tried to enter or leave Birmingham City Centre during rush-hour will testify…