Air pollution, particularly from small particles in diesel fumes, is strongly linked to heart disease and stroke, as well as increased risk of cancer and respiratory diseases, contributing to millions of premature deaths globally each year. In the UK alone, it has been linked to an estimated 40,000 premature deaths and £20 billion
in costs to our health services and businesses every year.
The government has therefore identified tackling poor air quality as a clear priority and a major public health issue. Though air quality in the UK has improved in recent years, according to the latest update to The World Health Organisation’s air pollution database
, more than 40 towns and cities in the UK are at or exceed harmful air pollution limits.
Polluting vehicles, particularly those that run on diesel, are a major source of poor air quality. Clean Air Zones are designed to encourage people to use more sustainable types of transport, and discourage the most polluting vehicles from entering ‘hotspots’ where air pollution is worst.
Improving air quality in Birmingham will benefit everyone that lives in and visits the city. Air pollution is a serious issue and causes the early death of around 900 people in Birmingham each year. By reducing harmful vehicle emissions in the city centre we can help to save these lives.
The CAZ will be particularly beneficial to children, who are especially vulnerable to poor air quality. It will also make a huge difference to people who work in the city centre and are exposed to the worst air pollution on a more regular basis.
As well as improving people’s health, the CAZ shows that Birmingham is serious about taking action on air quality. The city will be a role model for others that look to implement Clean Air Zones in the future.
Birmingham City Council will offer exemptions from the CAZ charges for a few select groups of people. These exemptions include:
- Commercial vehicles registered within the CAZ (LGV/HGV/coaches – maximum 2 vehicles per company) – 1-year exemption
- Commercial vehicles registered within the Birmingham area travelling to the CAZ with an existing finance agreement beyond 2020 (LGV/HGV/coaches – maximum 2 vehicles per company) – 1-year exemption
- Residents living within the CAZ, who have their private vehicles registered to their address – 2-year exemption
- Individuals travelling into the Clean Air Zone for work – 1-year exemption for those with salaries up to £30k per year
- Visitors to key hospitals, GP offices and care homes within the CAZ – duration of stay, with exemption running for 1 year (until December 2020)
- Vans and minibuses classified as section 19 operators, registered for operation in Birmingham – 1-year exemption
- Vehicles registered with disabled tax class, military vehicles and historic vehicles – exempted for the duration of the CAZ, automatically identified thanks to their tax class
- Showmen’s vehicles – exempted for the duration of the CAZ
- Special fleets such as emergency vehicles – length of exemption to be defined
The 1-year exemptions run up to the 31st December 2020 and the 2-year exemptions to the 31st December 2021.
Vehicle owners that are eligible for exemptions will have to apply, apart from those exempted based on their tax class. Details of the application process will be published by the Council by Summer 2019.