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Birmingham: Head of Clean Air Zone 'optimistic' about success

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Bristol will be the latest UK city to launch its Clean Air Zone (CAZ) at next week, on November 28, but several more are planned to roll out across the country next year to help slash emissions. Do you support their introduction? Vote in our poll.

CAZs are designed to reduce the number of polluting vehicles in city centres to help improve air quality. They hope to encourage motorists to drive less in favour of more sustainable transportation. Money raised from CAZ schemes after operating costs is legally obliged to be spent on environmental and sustainable projects in the area.

Some 71 percent of vehicles on Bristol’s roads are already compliant to the 24-hour charges but non-compliant private petrol and diesel cars, alongside taxis and LGVs under 3.5 tonnes, will be charged £9 to drive within the city’s CAZ. 

Meanwhile, HGVs, buses and coaches will face a daily charge of £100. However, motorbikes, fully-electric, hydrogen fuel-cell and any zero-emission vehicles are exempt from paying the fees.

Support in the form of grants and loans is available to help residents switch to greener vehicles and drivers earning less than £26,000 annually can apply for an exemption to the CAZ if they live or work in the area.

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Mayor of Bristol, Martin Rees, has praised the benefits of the scheme to help reduce pollution rates in the city. He said: “This is an important step on our journey to cleaner air and creating a healthier future for everyone in Bristol.”

He continued: “We need to reduce harmful pollution in the city and reach the legal limits set by Government in the shortest time possible, but we also want to give those who need it, a bit more time to prepare. That could mean upgrading or changing a vehicle or trying out different and more sustainable ways to travel instead.”

Some UK cities including Bath, Birmingham and Portsmouth introduced CAZs in 2021, while Bradford started charging high-polluting vehicles in October this year. The Government website states that other cities are expected to introduced CAZs in the near future, with Sheffield and Tyneside both charging high-polluting vehicles in early 2023.

A Tyneside CAZ covering Newcastle and Gateshead was introduced in October 2022 and charges will be issued from January 30, 2023. All private cars are exempt but non-compliant lorries, buses and coaches will be hit with £50-a-day tolls. In addition, vans and taxis will face £12.50 daily changes in the city centre.

Meanwhile, Sheffield’s CAZ will start charging in Spring 2023, yet private cars and motorbikes will be exempt, with only the largest polluters of vans, buses, coaches and taxis made to pay within the inner ring road and city centre.

Julie Grocutt, co-chair of the transport, regeneration and climate policy committee, said that the council was committed to ensuring the CAZ was “fair and equitable” for all.

She explained: “We cannot ignore the damaging effects of air pollution and must implement important schemes such as the Clean Air Zone, as well as others, but we need to make sure we’re bringing everyone along in this journey with us.”

Greater Manchester’s CAZ was expected to begin in May but was postponed in February to allow for Government consultation. If pushed through, it will be the largest such areas in the UK, and one of the biggest emissions-based charging zones in the world. However, Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham has criticised the scheme, claiming that it was “unworkable” after the pandemic.


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Transport for Greater Manchester is awaiting a response from Government officials on the scheme with TfGM boss  Megan Black saying at a council meeting on Wednesday, October 26, that plans may need to be pushed back.

Stockport councillor Mark Roberts said: “It’s disappointing that the chaos in Westminster is going to be costing taxpayers considerably and the work frankly that our officers have been doing to get better air quality for Manchester.”

It is reported that the CAZ for the city has already cost £62million, up to the end of September. The city is asking for a further £13million in Government funding to cover the operational costs which were supposed to be covered by revenue from the scheme.

A Clean Air GM spokesman said: “Protecting people’s health is a priority and in common with many other areas across the country, Greater Manchester’s 10 local authorities have been working on the basis of a process determined by the Government to develop a plan to clean up our air.”

So what do YOU think? Do you support clean air zones in UK cities? Vote in our poll and leave your thoughts in the comment section below.

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