PROSPER MAGAZINE: DIGITAL EDITION
BUILDING THE BLACK COUNTRY
REVEALED - START DATE FINALLY ANNOUNCED FOR BIRMINGHAM'S CLEAN AIR ZONE
Birmingham's controversial Clean Air Zone (CAZ) is set to be launched on June 1st next year, the city council announced earlier this month.
Townhall chiefs confirmed that the planned start date for the pollution-busting scheme following discussions with government ministers.
The large-scale initiative, which will impose charges on vehicles which don't meet strict criteria, is aimed at improving air quality in the heart of the city.
Although the CAZ, which has been the subject of a number of delays, has also attracted huge criticism, with previous claims it could hit businesses and low-income residents.
Announcing the scheduled start date, Councillor Waseem Zaffar, cabinet member for transport and environment, said, "We have been working closely with officials at the Joint Air Quality Unit and ministers to agree on a new launch date for the government-mandated Clean Air Zone.
"Poor air quality remains a public health risk and a Clean Air Zone provides the city with an effective tool for tackling this issue in the shortest possible time.
"The majority of drivers on Birmingham’s roads will not need to pay the daily charge but if you do then you may be eligible for an exemption or one of the financial incentives.
"So, I would encourage everyone to check the Brum Breathes website today. And everyone can still play a role in improving the air we all breathe by trying to reduce the number of shorter journeys we make by car every day."
Corin Crane, CEO at the Black Country Chamber said, “The Chamber broadly supports the introduction of the Clean Air Zone into Birmingham city centre and welcome that a commitment to a start date has been set.
“Air pollution is linked to almost a thousand deaths each year caused by issues related to poor air quality, we believe that action should be taken to protect people’s lives.
“Many businesses, employees and residents in the Black Country who rely on access to Birmingham City centre will need to be engaged with the new measures and what steps they need to take now to qualify for any exemptions.
“The Chamber will work to ensure its members are informed with the developments of the CAZ as they emerge.
Last month council leader Ian Ward had told a West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) briefing that the aim was to introduce the charge in summer 2021 - but the exact date was only announced today.
The scheme has previously suffered a number of delays, because of issues with the government's vehicle checker and more recently Covid-19.
The CAZ will cover an area of the city inside the inner ring road (A4540 Middleway) and once up-and-running will mean that the owners of the most polluting vehicles, which account for around a quarter of those on Birmingham’s roads, will need to pay a daily charge to drive into the zone.
Amid concern about the impact, the council has said it is offering a range of exemptions and financial incentives, with £35 million to help residents, city centre workers and businesses prepare for the launch.
Applications and expressions of interest are now open, and more information is available at BrumBreathes.co.uk