Birmingham Clean Air Zone now introduced with ‘soft launch’


Birmingham’s Clean Air Zone (CAZ) officially launched yesterday on 1st June, meaning there will now be a daily charge applied to high-emission vehicles driving in the marked zone. The CAZ has been in the planning for quite some time, and was originally supposed to go live in 2020. However, COVID restrictions proved this to be too difficult, rendering a postponement of the Zone for a full year.

Despite the wait, however, there is another delay to the CAZ; a two-week ‘soft launch’ was announced at 8:30am on Tuesday, causing a period of confusion as drivers attempted to pay the £8 daily charge without any notice of its temporary drop. Although the Zone is in force, the charge won’t be implemented until 14th June, to the relief – and confusion – of many commuters.

According to the BBC, the fact that many were unaware of the two-week ‘grace period’ has led to speculation and criticism surrounding the organisation of the CAZ and its late notice changes, although councillor Waseem Zaffar has commended the delay as it will give drivers ‘time to adjust’.

There will also be a 4-week grace period from 14th June in which drivers who do not pay the charge within 6 weeks of driving in the CAZ will not be fined the standard £120. Instead, they will simply be offered the chance to pay the initial daily charge.

Why has the Clean Air Zone been implemented?

The CAZ has been introduced in an attempt to combat emission levels in Birmingham which, according to Birmingham City Council, are having a ‘harmful effect on the health of people living, working and studying in the city.’ As stated by the Council website, the aim of the CAZ is to reduce the levels of nitrous dioxide in the air to ‘a maximum average of 40μg/m3.’

There are plans for Clean Air Zones to be introduced all over the UK, in areas such as Bristol, Greater Manchester, Liverpool, Portsmouth, Sheffield, Bradford, and Leicester. There are four different types of CAZs, ranging from A to D:

  • Category A: Buses, coaches, taxis and private hire vehicles.
  • Category B: All vehicles listed in Cat A, plus HGVs (heavy goods vehicles).
  • Category C: All vehicles listed in Cat B, plus LGVs (light goods vehicles).
  • Category D: All vehicles listed in Cat C, plus cars.

Due to the current emission levels in Birmingham, the new CAZ is a Category D Zone, although the categories only apply to the vehicles which give off excessive emissions – so your car may be exempt. You can check whether your car will be charged on the government website here.

Where is the Clean Air Zone?

The CAZ is in operation within the A4540 Middleway Ring Road, although doesn’t cover the Middleway itself. Those driving within the CAZ shown below will face paying the daily charge – unless, of course, your vehicle is exempt.

Image credit: BBC.co.uk

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