Birmingham has finally launched the first CAZ (clean air zone) outside the confines of England’s capital city, London, the city plan to charge heavily polluting vehicles with poor emissions for traveling to and from its city centre.
This new clean air zone campaign has been designed to improve the quality of air that has been poor for a number of years.
Starting from 1st June 2021, older heavily polluting vehicles, including taxis, private cars, and vans will be required to pay a daily fee of £8 should they enter the charging zone.
For coaches, buses, and HGVs (heavy goods vehicles), they will each be required to pay a whopping £50 a day. However, all motorists whose cars do not comply with the new regulations can breathe a sigh of relief as they will have a 14-day grace period before they are required to pay the new fees now in place.
The local authority announced that they decided to allow drivers that of new and used cars that aren’t green compliant time to adjust and ease into this new scheme.
Just like any other new policy, the clean air zone scheme in Birmingham has met its fair share of challenges.
It is estimated that around 100,000 drivers and many businesses will be affected, with some motor trade organisations highlighting that many drivers cannot afford to switch to cleaner models or pay the fine on top of their private or motor trade insurance policy, amongst other motoring fees.
According to the most recent Department of transportation figures 93,932 vehicles out of the 408,400 registered in Birmingham are non-compliant, this translates to about 25%, which is quite substantial.
Initially, this scheme was supposed to start 11 months ago but was delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic and a few technical hitches. It seems this was just the start of the issues weighing down on the CAZ plan in Birmingham.
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The CAZ has sparked controversy in that some fear these new charges will be a burden to people operating businesses like the motor trade industry in Birmingham as they struggle to get to profitability after the lockdown. Residents argue that this new law will impact low-income earners as they do not have enough funds to upgrade their vehicles during these difficult times.
Birmingham is just another city out of a long list that seek to introduce CAZ within their borders over the coming years.
This move to push for cleaner breathable air has come after the government lost a court case over higher than usual air pollution that could be linked to older heavy polluting vehicles, so the high court directed local authorities to put measures in place to handle the pollution problem.
Unlike Birmingham, some cities have elected to delay or do away with their CAZ plans due to the ongoing pandemic. Leeds is an example of one of these cities after they elected to scrap these new regulations for now, insisting they already achieved the allowed limits for cleaner air by replacing the engines on their taxis, buses and Lorries with cleaner models.
Roads that are affected by this new scheme include all the roads within the A4540 Middleway ring road, however, the circular route around the clear air zone is not included.