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Birmingham's Clean Air Zone continues to help improve air quality in the city centre

Published: Friday, 6th October 2023

Pollution levels in Birmingham's Clean Air Zone have been slashed by almost 40 per cent, according to a progress report issued today.

And, as she welcomed the report, transport lead Cllr Liz Clements vowed to build on the success of the Zone which was launched in June 2021.

The key results from this latest progress report are as follows:

  • In 2022 the levels of nitrogen dioxide in the Clean Air Zone reduced by an average of 17% when compared to 2019 (pre-COVID) results. When compared to 2016 (the year used in the original modelling for the Clean Air Zone) there has been a reduction of 37%*
  • The percentage of ‘non-compliant’ vehicles entering the Zone has reduced from 15.2% in June 2021 to 6.0% in June 2023, which represents an improvement of 9.2 percentage points (a reduction of 60.5%).
  • The average number of unique vehicles entering the Zone each day has increased from 98,112 in the first year of operation (June 2021 – May 2022) to 102,392 in the second year of operation (from June 2022 to May 2023)
  • There are two areas in the Clean Air Zone where there are ongoing exceedances of the legal limit for nitrogen dioxide.  It should be noted that while there are ongoing exceedances in these areas the levels of nitrogen dioxide are reducing.  Those areas are in the vicinity of the Moor Street interchange and St Chads Queensway.  In addition to those areas within the Clean Air Zone there are three locations on the A4540 Middleway with levels of nitrogen dioxide that are currently above the legal limit.

Birmingham’s Clean Air Zone was launched in 2021 as part of the Council’s plan to tackle the risk to public health caused by poor air quality.  The scheme is designed to specifically address the air pollutant nitrogen dioxide and to do so in the shortest possible time.

This is the Council’s second progress report on the Clean Air Zone and makes use of the data from the Annual Air Quality Status Report for 2022 and the network of Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) cameras used to support the operation of the Clean Air Zone.

Further work to better understand the sources of the ongoing exceedances of nitrogen dioxide in the areas within the Zone and on the A4540 has already taken place.  A common theme emerging from this work is that while the percentage of compliant vehicles moving through these areas is broadly similar to all vehicles entering the Zone, the combination of vehicle volume and other environmental factors in each area could be slowing down the rate of improvement.  However, further work is required to better understand the scale of change required to achieve the desired reductions in nitrogen dioxide.

Councillor Liz Clements, Cabinet Member for Transport at Birmingham City Council, welcomed the findings of this latest progress report, saying: “Tackling the health inequalities caused by poor air quality is vitally important, so it’s encouraging to see that the levels of nitrogen dioxide in the city centre are continuing to reduce.

“I want to thank everyone in the city who has helped to make this change possible.  However, there is more work to do.  There are now far fewer of the most polluting vehicles entering the city centre.  But we have to find ways to support and encourage more people to leave their vehicle at home more often.  An overall reduction in the volume of vehicles driving through the city centre will help improve air quality, reduce carbon emissions and create a more enjoyable environment for everyone.” 

You can download the full Air Quality and Road Traffic Update Report here.

ENDS

Notes to editors

About the Clean Air Zone:

  • Birmingham’s Clean Air Zone launched on 1 June 2021 and is a type ‘D’ Zone, which includes most vehicle categories (except for motorcycles).
    • Other cities to introduce a Clean Air Zone include: Bath (type C), Portsmouth (type B), Bristol (type D), Bradford (type C), Sheffield (type C) and Newcastle (type C).  More information about the Clean Air Zone framework can be found at Clean air zones - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
  • Since the launch of the Clean Air Zone, the percentage of chargeable vehicles entering the zone has more than halved from 15.2% to 6.6% in March 2023, which means a significant number of people have changed their behaviours as a result of its introduction, helping to improve air quality in the city. More data about operation of the Clean Air Zone can be found at:  www.brumbreathes .co.uk/CAZdata
  • The Clean Air Zone generates revenues from two sources.
    • The first is the daily fee that applies to vehicles that do not meet the emission standards of the Zone.  For non-compliant passenger cars, vans and taxis the daily fee is £8 applies.  For heavy duty vehicles, coaches etc the daily fee is £50.  To check whether or not a vehicle is subject to the daily fee and the fee that applies visit the Brum Breathes website.
    • The second source of revenue is from penalty charges for non-payment of the correct daily fee within the 13-day payment window.
  • All revenues generated by the scheme have to be used to cover the operation of the scheme.  All net surplus revenues have to be re-invested in local transport-related and policies.
  • To date the Council has allocated just over £57m of net surplus revenues from the Clean Air Zone to projects such as a trial of hydrogen buses, upgrades to the University train station and improvements to stations on the Camp Hill line, a number of projects within the Cross-City Bus scheme, expansion of the Car Free School Streets programme, development of the next phase of the Birmingham Cycle Revolution, including the creation of the Brum Breathes Fund.

About the Clean Air Zone Progress Report:

The latest Clean Air Zone Progress Report supersedes the interim version released in March 2022. It should be noted that the data in the interim report was based on a provisional bias adjustment factor of 0.81 which was used for the 2021 data set. This was due to the national factor not being available at the time the report was produced. The bias adjustment factor has now been adjusted to 0.84 using the national factor. The bias adjustment factor for 2022 has been confirmed as 0.83. All data used in this report makes use of the confirmed national correction factor for that year.

*It should be noted that the number of monitoring locations has significantly increased since 2016

 
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