Two months ago, on the 1st of June, the Birmingham became the third city in the UK to adopt a Clean Air Zone (CAZ), in an effort to control pollution in its city centre. This means that owners of older cars will have to pay £8-a-day to enter Birmingham.
In an article by Metro, it has been reported that, according to the AA, the city council-backed Birmingham Clean Air Zone (CAZ) will affect 100,000 vehicle-owners, in particular young drivers and lower income citizens.
The Birmingham City Council have argued that nearly 1000 people suffer pre mature deaths due to cancers, lung and heart diseases, as a result of high air pollution, thus highlighting that the reduction of emissions is not only an environmental approach, but an effort to improve public health. The decision has been also supported by the governmental, noting that Birmingham is experiencing high levels of air pollution and NO2.
The Clean Air Zone will be applied and operate daily on all roads within the A38 and its tunnels, the A4540 Middleway Ring Road, except Ring Road itself. Over 300 signs and panels have been placed to notify drivers when they are approaching the CAZ.
Upon enetering the CAZ, vehicles will be scanned by Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) to identify those that do not meet the emission standards. Cars, Taxis and LGVs will have to pay £8 daily, whereas Coaches, Buses and HGVs will have to cover £50 daily, where a day is calculated from midnight to midnight and they can pay 6 days in advance and 6 days afterward online or over the phone.
A fine of £120 will be applied to drivers that do not pay the CAZ fee, however, the fine can be reduced to £60 if paid within 14 days.
There are also some cars that are exempt from charges, depending on their emission standard.
In an interview with LBC Birmingham Councillor Waseem Zaffar has clarified that:
“There’s a two year exemption if you live in the clean air zone, there’s a one year exemption if you work in the clean air zone and earn less than £30,000. Anyone who comes into be vaccinated won’t be charged and the same for anyone coming into the Children’s Hospital.”
He also added that:
“[…] the old can live safely and longer in our city, the young can grow up healthy and fitter because they’re growing up in a city which is not blighted by health equalities but is blighted where we’ve not got clean air which is a fundamental human right”.
Regional economist Dr Steven McCabe has predicted that many people would still struggle to pay the new tax even with the exemptions.
‘Though exemptions are possible, anything making life more financially challenging to Birmingham’s poorest citizens is unwelcome, ‘ he said.
CAZ, however, does offer exemption permits for in-zone residents and it also involves a £10 million scheme that aims at offering £2,000 grants in support of people that work in the CAZ but earn less than £30,000 per year.
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