On June 1st the Clean Air Zone is being introduced to Birmingham. Here are the answers to some questions you might have about the Clean Air Zone (CAZ):
Why is it being introduced?
The Conservative Government has asked Birmingham, as well as other cities in the UK, to take action to reduce the amount of dirty air people breathe in. In Birmingham, the levels of gases such as Nitrogen Dioxide are so high that 900 people every year in our city die from diseases connected with poor air quality. These diseases include heart attacks, asthma and strokes. Therefore, your Labour Council has decided that the best way of discouraging the most polluting vehicles is to charge them to enter the city centre.
Is this like London’s Congestion Charge?
No. A Congestion Charge would mean that every car is charged to enter the city centre. Birmingham’s Clean Air Zone only charges the most polluting vehicles to enter the CAZ area. Three in four cars that come into Birmingham won’t have to pay a charge at all.
How much is the charge?
£8 a day for car drivers, £50 a day for HGVs, vans and buses.
Won’t this just end up pushing the pollution out of the city centre into other areas of Birmingham?
No. The CAZ means we will have cleaner journeys into the city centre. In London and Germany, introducing a low emissions zone similar to the CAZ led to the areas outside the zone also getting the benefits of cleaner air. This is because the cleaner vehicles used by drivers spread the benefit of less polluting cars to the surrounding areas as well.
The daily charge is the same for everyone. Won’t this just hit the poorest in Birmingham the hardest?
Actually, poorest communities will benefit most from cleaner air. In poorer areas, there is generally more air pollution than in richer areas. Also, people in richer communities tend to drive more and own more polluting diesel cars than those in poorer communities.
What about people who work in the zone? Isn’t it unfair they have to pay an extra £8 a day to go to work?
There is support available for people who work in the Zone for 18 hours or more a week. They might be able to claim £2000 towards public transport costs, or to upgrade their existing vehicle. You can find more information here: https://www.brumbreathes.co.uk/info/5/exemptions-additional-support/2/clean-air-zone-1/2.
Do people who live in the Clean Air Zone also have to pay the charge?
Not for two years – for details of how to apply for an exemption, see here: https://www.brumbreathes.co.uk/info/5/exemptions-additional-support/21/apply-exemption
There’s also £10million support available for small businesses, as well as for taxi drivers who might be affected.
Birmingham is only just reopening after the impact of Covid. Is this the right time to be launching the Clean Air Zone?
Birmingham doesn’t have a choice. Originally the CAZ was going to be launched in June 2020 but it was delayed due to the pandemic. The Government has insisted that the Clean Air Zone is launched on June 1st, 2021.
Also, this is the right thing to do. Poor air quality is a public health crisis and your Labour Council is determined to do something about it.
Do the Conservatives agree with the Clean Air Zone?
It depends which one you ask. Conservative Ministers have written to the Council forcing Birmingham to implement a Clean Air Zone. The Conservative Mayor in the West Midlands has welcomed the idea of a Clean Air Zone, calling our plan “bold”. But the Conservative Councillors in Birmingham say we should plant trees on the Aston Expressway instead.
Would planting lots of trees on the Aston Expressway actually solve the crisis of air quality?
No. They would store the pollution but do absolutely nothing about the dirty air.
Where should I go to for more information about the Clean Air Zone?