Birmingham agrees to submit CAZ proposal

Birmingham city council has agreed to put forward its plans for a charging Clean Air Zone, as part of its work to address air quality in the city.

The council’s full CAZ business case was approved at a cabinet meeting on Monday (10 September), ahead of a deadline for the submission of the proposals to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) on Friday.

Birmingham council is among the authorities looking at introducing a clean air zone

The city council was one of five cities named within the government’s 2015 air quality plan as being required to draw up proposals to bring nitrogen dioxide levels into legal limits within the soonest timeframe possible.

Proposals have been drawn up which would involve the introduction of a charging zone applying to the ‘most polluting vehicles, including buses, coaches, lorries, taxis and private hire vehicles, vans and private cars.

Proposal

It is proposed that the Clean Air Zone should cover all roads within the A4540 Middleway ring road.

Under Birmingham’s plans, charges are likely to be levied on pre Euro 6 diesel and pre-Euro 4 petrol light vehicles, while heavy goods vehicles would be required to meet the Euro VI standard to avoid charges.

However, opposition councillors have criticised the council’s omission of data relating to the potential charges to be applied to different vehicles under the proposals.

Within its business case, the council reveals that it will be seeking a total of £24.3 million from the government’s clean air implementation fund, and an additional £36.2 million from the clean air fund to implement its measures.

An additional £7.3 million is expected to be recouped from the CAZ in charges, the council claims, despite details of the proposed charging rates having not been disclosed.

Additional measures to be implemented by the council could include on street parking controls within CAZ area.

Submission of the plans follows a six-week consultation in the proposals, with 10,000 residents and organisations having responded (see airqualitynews.com story).

Opposition

Documents published ahead of Monday’s meeting suggest that there were some calls for the council to consider non-charging alternatives to a Clean Air Zone.

However, according to the council, detailed assessment of the air quality measures rejected options that did not include a charging element as this would require “major modal shift and significant investment in transport infrastructure upgrades”.

“Moreover, it would not be possible to implement these as to achieve compliance with NO2 limits in the shortest possible time, consistent with other statutory and other responsibilities.”

The council is also looking to develop a wider Clean Air Strategy, to be published later this year, which will go beyond the proposals to establish a Clean Air Zone in the city.

“We want a document that addresses the high levels of air pollution in the city, but also goes well beyond. Being legally compliant is where we should start and not where we should finish and being a clean air city is an ambition that this city has,” Councillor Waseem Zaffar, the city council’s cabinet member for transport and environment told the meeting.