Birmingham’s Clean Air Zone to go live on 1 June 2021

Birmingham’s Clean Air Zone has been given the green light for 1 June 2021

Drivers of older polluting petrol and diesel cars who travel into the centre of Birmingham will face daily charges of £8 from 1 June 2021, the new start date for the city’s delayed Clean Air Zone.

Only motorists who use the cleanest vehicles will avoid the emissions tax, with a quarter of cars used in the West Midlands city facing the surcharge.

The scheme had originally been due to be enforced from July 2020. 

However, a fault with the Government’s new vehicle checker service and coronavirus have pushed the zone’s introduction back to next summer.

This is Money has listed below the other UK cities intending to launch similar charging zones for drivers from next year in a bid to reduce their local pollution levels.

The Birmingham Clean Air Zone is the first of many schemes in cities from next year, following the success of London’s Congestion Charge Zone and the Ultra Low Emissions Zone, which came into force in the capital in April 2019. 

It was planned to become the first city outside London to sting drivers of polluting cars with daily charges, though enforced delays will see it launched much later than originally scheduled.

All drivers of pre-Euro 4 petrol and pre-Euro 6 diesel cars will be stung with a daily charge of £8 to drive within the limits of the A4540 Middleway Ring Road.

The daily fee can be paid online, and failure to do so will see motorists slapped with a £120 fine. 

The city council has estimated that 25 per cent of motors currently entering the limits of the Clean Air Zone are not non-compliant with the scheme. 

It means up to a quarter of locals could be stung with charges of £56 a week, unless they switch to a newer and cleaner car. 

All drivers of pre-Euro 4 petrol and pre-Euro 6 diesel cars will face a daily charge of £8 to drive within the limits of the A4540 Middleway Ring Road

All drivers of pre-Euro 4 petrol and pre-Euro 6 diesel cars will face a daily charge of £8 to drive within the limits of the A4540 Middleway Ring Road

Birmingham City Council has estimated that a quarter of cars used in the city are non-compliant with the scheme

Birmingham City Council has estimated that a quarter of cars used in the city are non-compliant with the scheme

The scheme will operate 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. It means a driver who enters the zone at 11pm and leaves after midnight will have to pay the charge twice.

Vehicle euro emission standards explained 

Knowing your car’s Euro emissions rating is more important than ever, given the increasing number of levies and fines being introduced for older cars, especially diesels. 

Most Clean Air, Low Emission and Ultra Low Emission Zones being – or already – implemented impact pre-Euro 4 emissions petrol and pre-Euro 6 emission diesel cars.

It’s worth checking online to see which category your models falls into, though it roughly will be designated by when it was first registered, as listed below:

Euro 1 – from 31 December 1992

Euro 2 – from 1 January 1997

Euro 3 – from 1 January 2001

Euro 4 – from 1 January 2006 (common minimum standard for petrol cars)

Euro 5 – from 1 January 2011

Euro 6 – from 1 September 2015 (common minimum standard for diesel cars)

All revenue raised by the charge zone is promised to be reinvested in Birmingham’s transport network. 

Operators with buses and HGVs used in the centre of Birmingham will face much higher daily charges, needing to pay a fee of £50 per vehicle. 

The only exemptions from the daily fee will be for vans and minibuses used to shuttle school children or provide community transport services, while vehicles with a disabled tax class will also avoid the charge.

The new confirmation date means the scheme will come into force some 11 months later than originally scheduled.

In February this year – just five months before the Clean Air Zone’s original enforcement date – a glitch with the government’s online vehicle checker system saw the Clean Air Zone pushed back. 

The online tool had been launched just weeks earlier to inform motorists in Birmingham and Leeds if the car they drive is compliant with the respective schemes.

It emerged that some eligible Euro 6 emissions standards diesel cars were incorrectly showing as being liable for Birmingham’s daily £8 fee, which would not have been the case.

Birmingham City Council announced that it would not begin operating its scheme until six months after the government website was fixed, though the impact on operations caused by the coronavirus outbreak has since compounded the delay.

The scheme will operate 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. It means a driver who enters the zone at 11pm and leaves after midnight will have to pay the charge twice

The scheme will operate 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. It means a driver who enters the zone at 11pm and leaves after midnight will have to pay the charge twice

The Birmingham Clean Air Zone was due to be introduced in July this year, but problems with the Government's online vehicle checker system for the scheme resulted in it being pushed back at least 6 months - and further delays have been caused by the impact of Covid-19

The Birmingham Clean Air Zone was due to be introduced in July this year, but problems with the Government’s online vehicle checker system for the scheme resulted in it being pushed back at least 6 months – and further delays have been caused by the impact of Covid-19

In a statement issued last week, the city council confirmed the refreshed start date: ‘Following meetings with Rebecca Pow MP, the under-secretary of state for environment, food and rural affairs and Rachel Maclean MP the under-secretary of state for transport, it has been confirmed that the government-mandated Clean Air Zone for Birmingham is now scheduled to launch on 1 June 2021.’

The council also confirmed that £35million worth of financial incentives will be made available to support businesses, residents and city workers to adjust to the new changes – with applications for the funding already open.

The scheme is part of a long-term plan that could see all private car journeys banned for Birmingham city centre by 2031. 

Councillor Waseem Zaffar said: ‘We have been working closely with officials at the Joint Air Quality Unit and ministers to agree 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.’

Other UK cities planning to introduce Clean Air Zones

Aberdeen

Low Emission Zone in 2022 (consultation)

Aberdeen has launched a consultation for the introduction of a Low Emission Zone operating from 2022.  

The LEZ is likely to be in the city centre as this is currently where air quality is poorest and implement a ban on vehicles that fail to meet the required emission standards. 

This is likely to be Euro 6 for diesel cars and Euro 4 for petrols. The restriction will also impact diesel-powered Euro VI HGVs and buses. 

Bath

Clean Air Zone from 15 March 2021 – private cars exempt (confirmed)

Bath had been at the forefront of introducing a charge from private vehicles, though last year performed a huge U-turn after facing a backlash from motorists in the city.

Under the proposals for the original Clean Air Zone, drivers of pre-Euro 6 diesel and pre-Euro 4 petrol cars and vans would have been charged £9 to enter the centre of Bath from late 2020. 

However, a public consultation in December garnered 8400 responses from local residents who opposed the zone. 

As a result, the charge will only be for taxis, buses, coaches, lorries and vans that don’t meet the emission requirements.

Brighton

Ban for all passenger vehicles in 2023 (consultation)

Brighton and Hove Council has proposed to bar private vehicles from 2023 after Green Party councillors pledged to reduce air pollution.

Green councillor Amy Heley, who suggested the move, said she wanted to investigate the feasibility and costs of stopping private vehicles entering the city centre.

Two options are being put to the public for a CAZ in Bristol. The first is a smaller zone where older, more polluting vans and private cars would pay to drive in the zone
The second option is a larger charging zone (inclusive of option one) where older, more polluting commercial vehicles - but not private cars - would be charged to drive

Two options are being put to the public for a CAZ in Bristol: a smaller zone where older, more polluting vans and private cars would pay to drive in the zone (left) or a larger charging zone (inclusive of option one) where older, more polluting commercial vehicles – but not private cars – would be charged to drive (right)

Bristol

Clean Air Zone (consultation)

Bristol had been set to become the first UK city to launch a city ban on diesel passenger vehicles in March 2021, though the proposal has since been scrapped entirely.

Instead, it launched this month a consultation for the introduction of a Clean Air Zone in the city.

Tow options are being put to the public: the first covering a small area of central Bristol where older, more polluting commercial vehicles and polluting private cars would pay to drive in the zone; the second a larger charging zone (inclusive of option one) where older, more polluting commercial vehicles, but not private cars, would be charged to drive.

A decision is due to be made before Christmas. 

Cambridge

Clean Air Zone (proposed)

Cambridge City Council has acknowledged that it has an air quality issue – partly blaming the popularity of the A14 nearby – and a clean air zone for vehicles is likely to be implemented to help clean up what locals breathe.

It ran a feasibility study last year to investigate whether introducing one or more clean air zones in Cambridge would help reduce air pollution. 

It also discussed plans with businesses and residents but has yet to produce a formal action plan for a zone.

There have been proposals for a Cardiff Clean Air Zone that would have seen drivers of older cars hit with a £10-a-day charge

There have been proposals for a Cardiff Clean Air Zone that would have seen drivers of older cars hit with a £10-a-day charge

Cardiff

£2 daily charge for drivers who don’t live in Cardiff (proposed)

Cardiff City Council earlier this year announced a surprise plan to help raise £2billion over the next 10 years to boost transport links by charging motorists £2 a day each time they want to drive into the Welsh capital. 

The levy will impact drivers of all vehicles and fuel types, though local residents living in Cardiff would be exempt from the charge. 

In August 2019 the Welsh government asked Cardiff City Council to reconsider the introduction of a Clear Air Zone for vehicle, despite the authority previously ruling out a charge for drivers. 

The Council undertook a detailed study into air quality as a result of a legal requirement which has been placed on the Welsh Government and found that only Castle Street, which runs in front of the Castle by Westgate Street to Duke Street, is likely to fail legal compliance beyond 2021 if nothing is done to reduce traffic pollution. 

Earlier that year the council said it would not implement a Clean Air Zone in the city and instead submitted plans to reduce harmful nitrogen oxides with active transport initiatives, taxi mitigation measures and retrofitting buses with Adblue systems to make then cleaner. 

However, the Welsh government continues to pile on pressure for the authority to ‘better assess the potential’ of a CAZ to cut emissions. 

Derby

Traffic management measures (proposed)

 Derby City Council has proposed to introduce traffic management measures to manage the flow of traffic in and around the centre that will help to reduce emissions.

However, reports have emerged that the government will encourage the implementation of a clean air zone as the authority’s preferred measures won’t have enough of an impact.

The city council has two options in place. The first is a clean air zone within the boundaries of the city’s inner ring road that would charge pre-Euro 4 petrol and pre-Euro 6 diesel cars and vans as well as HGVs, buses and coaches.

The second scheme would cover an even wider part of the Derby to the outer ring road, though the authority has already raised concerns that this could be too extreme. 

Dundee

Low Emission Zone (proposed) 

Under proposals, the city’s inner ring road would form the boundary for a Low Emission Zone. 

Petrol cars registered before 2006 (pre Euro 4) and diesel cars registered before 31 August 2015 (pre Euro 6), as well as older HGVs and LGVs, would be banned from the zone.

Sound familiar? That’s because Dundee is one of the four major cities tasked with have an LEZ in place as part of the Scottish Government’s air pollution targets. 

Edinburgh has a two-tier operation for a Low Emission Zone that doesn't impact private car owners until 2024

Edinburgh has a two-tier operation for a Low Emission Zone that doesn’t impact private car owners until 2024

Edinburgh

Low Emission Zone (proposed)

 imilar to the other Scottish cities listed here, Edinburgh City Council has already published a draft proposal for a Low Emission Zone for introduction by the end of this year.

However, the authority wants to take a two-tier approach, giving drivers until 2024 to buy compliant model.

All cars, buses and lorries that fail to meet pollution standards (Euro6 for diesel and Euro4 for petrol) will be banned from the city centre itself. 

But a separate zone for the wider city will see cars exempt from the rules for four to five years years to give locals time to replace their vehicles with greener ones.  

Buses, coaches and commercial vehicles will also have until 2023 before they are charged for driving older machinery in the wider zone. 

Glasgow

Low Emission Zone (in place)

Glasgow’s Low Emission Zone has been in force since 31 December 2018, but it only applies to local buses for the meantime.

Private car drivers won’t escape, though. The council had set out plans for all vehicles entering the city centre zone to meet the relevant standards –  all petrol cars are at least Euro 4, all diesels are Euro 6 and restrictions for heavy vehicles with diesel engines – from 31 December 2022.

Like elsewhere, Automatic Number Plate Recognition cameras monitoring the city will identify any non-compliant vehicles being used in the zone so fines can be administered to owners. 

However, on 7 May 2020 the national LEZ Leadership Group announced a temporary pause in plans to implement Low Emission Zones in Scotland in response to Covid-19. 

Plans were formally resumed on 6 August 2020 and a new indicative timescale presented for LEZs in Scotland that aims to see their introduction between February and May of 2022. 

Leeds

Clean Air Zone – private cars exempt (confirmed)

 Leeds was due to introduce its Clean Air Zone at the start of 2020 but the council recently confirmed that it has been pushed back to at least January 2021.

The scheme will aim to tackle air pollution by charging high-emission HGVs and buses £50 a day to drive in the city.

High-emission taxis and private hire vehicles would also need to pay, though the daily charge is reduced to £12.50.  

The zone itself covers most of the city, but private cars – for the time being – are not going to be affected. 

The London ULEZ has been in place since April 2019 and has already reduced air pollution levels significantly in the centre of the capital

The London ULEZ has been in place since April 2019 and has already reduced air pollution levels significantly in the centre of the capital

The ULEZ is due to be expanded to the North and South Circular Road next year, which will hit hundreds of thousands of motorists living in the capital

The ULEZ is due to be expanded to the North and South Circular Road next year, which will hit hundreds of thousands of motorists living in the capital

London

Ultra Low Emission Zone already in place and due to be expanded in 2021 

London’s Ultra-Low Emission Zone is the first Clean Air Zone of its kind, introduced by mayor Sadiq Khan in April 2019. 

ULEZ is currently in place in the same part of central London as the Congestion Charge Zone and is in force 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Pre-Euro 6 diesel cars, pre-Euro 4 petrols and pre-Euro 3 motorcycles are affected, having to pay £11.50 to enter the ULEZ – and that’s on top of the £12.50 daily Congestion Charge. 

Classic cars built before 1979 are exempt from the daily fee. Non-Euro VI HGVs, buses and coaches are charged £100 a day. 

The ULEZ will be expanded on 26 October 2021 to cover all of the city inside the North and South Circular Roads, impacting hundreds of thousands of residents. 

A £25million Scrappage Scheme has been launched to help low-income families replace their older cars with ULEZ-compliant models, though only offers £2,000 to owners if they scrap their out-of-date motors.

Manchester

Clean Air Zone – private cars exempt (consultation) 

Manchester’s planned Clean Air Zone in under consultation until December, but currently has no intention of affecting private cars.

Instead buses, coaches and HGVs will face a £100 daily charge while taxi operators with non-compliant vehicles have to stump up £7.50 a day. 

Non-compliant vans from 2023 will also be charged the lower rate, under existing proposals.

The scheme would be in operation 24 hours a day, seven days a week. 

What is still being discussed is the precise boundary for the zone. The council says it is likely to cover the whole of Greater Manchester, though not inclusive of routes that are part of the Strategic Road Network managed by Highways England.

Newcastle has outlined plans for a Clean Air Zone in the city centre, but it won't target private vehicle for the time being

Newcastle has outlined plans for a Clean Air Zone in the city centre, but it won’t target private vehicle for the time being

Newcastle

Clean Air Zone – private cars exempt (consultation)

Like Manchester, the Newcastle Clean Air Zone doesn’t initially plan to hit private cars.

Instead, diesel HGVs, buses and coaches that don’t meet emissions standards would have to pay £50 a day to enter the city. 

Only Euro 4 and later petrol taxis and vans will be exempt from a reduced £12.50 fee, under the current rules.

The zone was due to be introduced in January 2021 bu has been pushed back with no confirmed start date due to the impact of Covid-19.

Oxford councils have agreed on a vehicle 'Red Zone' from December 2020 that will charge motorists of all cars (except electric models) £10 to use give busy streets between 7am and 7pm

Oxford councils have agreed on a vehicle ‘Red Zone’ from December 2020 that will charge motorists of all cars (except electric models) £10 to use give busy streets between 7am and 7pm

Residents, businesses and Blue Badge holders will all receive discounts on the charge

Residents, businesses and Blue Badge holders will all receive discounts on the charge

Oxford  

Zero Emission Zone/Red  Zone – summer 2021 (confirmed) 

Oxford City Council and Oxfordshire County Council had agreed a plan for a ‘red zone’ in five streets in Oxford city centre from 1 December 2020, though this has been delayed to summer 2021 due to the coronavirus outbreak.

It will see drivers charged £10 to use streets between the hours of 7am and 7pm.

Only pure electric vehicles producing zero tailpipe emissions will be exempt from the charge.

Discounts will be available to blue badge holders and businesses registered at addressed in the red zone for the first four years.

Residents in the zone will also get a 90 per cent discount on the daily charge for the first 10 years it is in operation.

Adding to this will be a ‘green zone’ implemented across the rest of Oxford city centre at a later date, charging drivers of older cars to use them.

The restriction will match those of the London ULEZ, impacting owners of vehicles that don’t meet Euro 4 emission standards for petrol and the latest Euro 6 measures for diesel. 

Portsmouth

Clean Air Zone – passenger cars exempt (consultation) 

Portsmouth City Council launched the charging Clean Air Zone consultation on 15 July to seek views on how the zone will operate.

The ministerial direction for Portsmouth states that the council are required to implement a zone that will charge older more polluting HGV’s, taxis and public hire vehicles, buses and coaches, to travel in an area to the south west of the city. 

However, the coronavirus pandemic has had a significant impact on the economy, and many businesses may not be able to replace their vehicles as quickly as the previous research suggested. 

In order to achieve legal limits by 2022, the government may impose a Class C Clean Air Zone, meaning that older more polluting vans would also be charged. To ensure the views of van drivers are heard, the council is asking questions about this too.

Reading

Clean Air Zone (proposal) 

Reading Borough Council is currently considering exploring the introduction of a Workplace Parking Levy, and a Clean Air Zone or a Low Emission Zone in a bid to reduce air pollution in the city.

No exact details have been confirmed. 

Sheffield

Clean Air Zone- private cars exempt (consultation) 

The Clean Air Zone will cover the inner ring road and the city centre, including Park Square and the A61/Parkway junction. 

The proposed zone is not final and may be subject to minor changes through feedback from the consultation.  

The proposed scheme wouldn’t affect private cars – only HGVs, buses, vans and taxis that fail to meet emission standards.

Non-compliant vans and taxis will be charged £10 a day, while HGV and bus operators will be stung with a daily £50 fee. 

York 

Clean Air Zone – passenger cars exempt (proposed) 

York’s proposed Clean Air Zone looks set be the first in the country, but is somewhat different to others mentioned in this list.

While it will look to inflict charges on buses, HGVs and vans to allow for more pedestrian zones. The council has even suggested using rickshaws to transport stock to shops and restaurants in the city centre.

Delays have pushed the start date back for schemes in other cities, but a council meeting last month showed support for the zone to be introduced in York in January 2021.

However, if enforced from this date, the zone will only apply to buses at first.

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