Clean Air Zone consultation plans to go before Cabinet

Published: Tuesday, 19th June 2018

Cabinet is being asked to give the go-ahead for the council to consult on plans to reduce air pollution in Birmingham and protect the health of those who live and work in the city.

A report due to go before Cabinet on 26 June also asks it to approve preferred measures for a Birmingham Clean Air Zone, which will then be subject to a full public consultation.

It is estimated that poor air quality is responsible for up to 900 premature deaths in Birmingham each year. Air pollution is linked to a wide range of illnesses and conditions, including cancer, diabetes, asthma, stroke and heart disease, as well as impacting on the development of children’s lungs.

The two pollutants causing most concern in Birmingham are nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and fine airborne particulate matter (PM2.5).

Birmingham City Council is required by the Government to take action to meet legal air quality limits in the shortest possible time and, in order to achieve this, will need to introduce a Clean Air Zone by 2020. It is proposed that the Clean Air Zone should cover all roads within the A4540 Middleway ring road.

Under the proposals for the preferred Class D option, charges would apply to the most polluting vehicles which enter the Clean Air Zone, including buses, coaches, lorries, taxis and private hire vehicles, vans and private cars. A vehicle whose engine is clean enough would not have to pay anything.

The council is undertaking work to identify those most likely to be adversely affected by the introduction of a Clean Air Zone. The consultation will help to refine a package of measures that can be introduced to help mitigate the impact and support people to move to cleaner forms of transport.

Councillor Waseem Zaffar, Cabinet Member for Transport and Environment at Birmingham City Council, said:

“Clean air is a basic human right and yet poor air quality is responsible for hundreds of early deaths in Birmingham each year. This is completely unacceptable and we cannot allow it to continue, which is why we are now looking to consult on plans for a Clean Air Zone in the city.

“The biggest cause of air pollution is road transport, particularly diesel vehicles, so we need to take action to discourage the most polluting vehicles from entering the worst-hit parts of the city. If your vehicle meets nationally set engine emissions standards then you will not need to pay anything.

“This is not about making money, but saving lives – in fact, in an ideal world, no one would have to pay a Clean Air Zone charge because everyone would be driving a low or zero-emission vehicle or walking, cycling or using public transport instead.

“Of course, a Clean Air Zone is just one element of the wider work we are already doing to tackle air pollution in the long-term and this also includes making positive changes in the way we travel around our city.

“We all have a part to play in ensuring that our children, their children and future generations to come enjoy longer, healthier lives because they have access to the clean air we are currently denying ourselves.”

The full Cabinet report and associated documents can be found here.