Birmingham is to launch England’s first clean air zone (CAZ) outside London to charge private cars, in a move hailed by campaigners as a major turning point for the former UK “motor city” that has been plagued by poor air quality for years.
From 1 June drivers of older polluting cars, taxis and vans who travel into the centre of Birmingham will face a daily charge of £8, while buses, coaches and HGVs will be charged £50 a day. It is anticipated a quarter of cars in the city will be affected but there are temporary exemptions for commercial and community vehicles, and some workers and residents.
But the scheme – which was delayed by 11 months due to the Covid pandemic and some technical issues – has sparked controversy. Some fear the charge will hit businesses struggling to get back on their feet after lockdown and will disproportionately affect lower earners and taxi drivers who cannot afford to upgrade their vehicles.