Clean Air Zone

In December 2015, the UK Government announced plans to implement Clean Air Zones in five cities by 2020. These zones aim to improve local air quality, targeting the most polluted areas whilst minimising the impact on business.

Birmingham has air pollution levels harmful to the health of people living, working, and studying in the city.

A Clean Air Zone (CAZ) will come into effect in 2021. No vehicles will be banned from entering the zone, but the most polluting vehicles will have to pay a daily charge to enter the city centre: all roads within the A4540 Middleway ring road. Vehicle number plate recognition will be used to identify vehicles which do not meet emissions standards, and payment will be done online.

You can use the postcode checker at the bottom of this page see whether or not your home or workplace lies in the CAZ

All vehicle types will have to pay to enter the Clean Air Zone (buses, lorries, vans, taxis, and private cars).

To avoid paying to drive in the Clean Air Zone your vehicle will need to meet certain criteria, depending on the fuel type:

  • Diesel – Euro 6 (VI) standard or better (most new registrations after 1 September 2015)
  • Petrol or LPG added to original petrol engine – Euro 4 standard or better (most new registrations after 1 January 2006)
  • Gas – Euro 6 (VI) standard or better 
  • Fully electric or hydrogen fuel cell – all are compliant and avoid CAZ charges
  • Hybrid electric – the diesel/petrol engine must meet the relevant criteria above
If your vehicle does not meet the criteria above, you might be able to make it compliant by fitting a retrofit technology. This must be approved by the Clean Vehicle Retrofit Accreditation Scheme (CVRAS).

Motorcycles/mopeds will not be charged for entering the CAZ. 

The daily CAZ charges will be £8 for cars, vans and mini-buses, and £50 for HGVs, buses and coaches.

Birmingham City Council recognises that smaller businesses and people who are self-employed may need extra incentives to prepare for the Clear Air Zone and have developed several initiatives to help small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) operating in the CAZ area. The council has been awarded £38 million from the Government’s Clean Air Fund to pay for a support package that includes:  

  • £10.84 million to provide mobility support for individuals working with the Clean Air Zone (of which at least 50 per cent must be used for a scrappage scheme);
  • £5 million for a Hackney carriage support package;
  • £2.75 million for a council-run Hackney carriage leasing scheme;
  • £7 million for a private hire vehicle upgrade package;
  • £10.05 million for an HGV and coach compliance fund;
  • £0.35 million for supporting engagement and awareness activity

There will also be several CAZ exemptions, shown below. 

Motivations behind the CAZ

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.

Benefits of the CAZ

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 specified hospitals within the CAZ (Birmingham Children’s Hospital, Badger Medical Centre or Attwood Green Health Centre) – 1-year exemption
  • Vans and minibuses, not registered as a Hackney carriage or Private Hire vehicle, and classified as section 19 or section 22 operators registered for operation in Birmingham – 1-year exemption  
  • Vehicles registered with either disabled, military or historic tax class – exempted for the duration of the CAZ, automatically identified thanks to their tax class
  • Specialist emergency vehicles (ambulance, fire and police), showmen’s vehicles, recovery vehicles, special vehicles and agricultural (and similar) vehicles – exempted for the duration of the CAZ

The 1-year exemptions will run up to one year from the start date of the CAZ, and the 2-year exemption will run up to two years from the start date of the CAZ.

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 Autumn 2019.

Find out if your home or business is located within the Birmingham Clean Air Zone.

You can enter your postcode below to check whether your home or workplace lies in the CAZ or not.

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