CLEAN AIR ZONE: Nine things to know before June 1st
Birmingham’s Clean Air Zone (CAZ) is coming on June 1 – when highly-polluting vehicles will begin to be charged to enter the city centre.
The CAZ – which will cover all the roads within the A4540 Middleway Ring Road but not the ring road itself – will follow Bath’s as the first zones put in place in the country.
The CAZ is being introduced to tackle a national poor air quality emergency which the city council says contributes to 900 premature deaths in the city per year.
Here’s what you need to know ahead of the launch:
How much will it cost?
For cars, taxis and vans the charge is £8 per day, while HGVs, coaches and buses will be charged £50 per day.
Payment can be made online or over the phone using a Government system to be announced.
A day runs from midnight to midnight – not 24 hours hours from entering the zone. Within the day you can enter and leave many times for a single charge.
The onus is on the driver to pay
Drivers will not receive a letter or text to tell them they have entered the zone – the onus is on the driver to realise and pay the charge.
There is a 13 day window in which to pay – including six days prior to the visit, the day of the visit and six days after.
There will be around 300 signs around the CAZ to inform the drivers they are entering.
How much is the fine for missed payments?
Failure to pay within the window will result in a fixed penalty notice of £120 reduced to £60 if paid within 14 days.
Which vehicles have to pay?
Not all vehicles will be subject to a charge. Drivers can check whether their vehicle is compliant and therefore will not be charged on the Government’s website at: https://www.gov.uk/check-clean-air-zone-charge
Examples of vehicles which will not be charged include:
Those which meet Euro 4 emissions standards (for petrol) or Euro 6 emissions standards (diesel)
Fully electric vehicles
Fully hydrogen fuel cells
Hybrid electric vehicles meeting relevant Euro standards
The council has said most petrol vehicles from 2006 onwards will be compliant and most diesel vehicles from 2015 onwards will be compliant.
How will the money be spent?
The council has said the money generated by the CAZ must be spent on transport related projects and policies.
The Local Democracy Reporting Service has previously reported the council intends to use part of the revenues from the CAZ on public realm improvements.
These include making parts of the city centre more cycling and walking-friendly – but will not be spent on restoring the “Floozie in the Jacuzzi” sculpture which will instead be funded by the Transforming Cities Fund.
Other possible uses could be controlled parking zones and the hydrogen bus pilot.
What if I live or work in the CAZ area?
Residents within the CAZ will be eligible for a two-year exemption, while those who work for a minimum of 18 hours per week in the CAZ and earn less than £30,000 per year will be eligible for a one-year exemption from June 1.
Other exemptions are available for commercial vehicles registered within the CAZ and those visiting hospitals in the zone.
People can apply now via the Brum Breathes website at: https://www.brumbreathes.co.uk/
Drivers with a blue badge won’t automatically be eligible for exemptions
Vehicles with a disabled or disabled passenger tax class will be eligible for exemptions, but those with a blue badge alone will not be.
Other exemptions are available for motorcycles, show vehicles, historic vehicles over 40 years old, specialist vehicles such as gritters and community and school transport.
What help is available?
The city council has £35 million worth of grants available to help drivers make the transition to the CAZ.
This includes a “scrappage scheme” where drivers earning less than £30,000 can offer up their vehicle to be scrapped and in return receive £2,000 towards Sprint bus travel or the same amount off the cost of a compliant vehicle.
Other pots of funding are available for SMEs in the West Midlands with HGVs and coaches and Birmingham-licensed hackney carriages and private hire drivers.
Where can I find out more?
More information is available at a series of webinars being held by the city council – with details on the Brum Breathes website.
Words: Mark Cardwell, Local Democracy Reporter
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