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Birmingham Clean Air Zone: Government Mucks It Up


Remember that urgent clean air plan? The one that had to be implemented super-fast to solve Birmingham's pollution problems?

Thanks to a glitch with the technology designed to detect polluting vehicles, the Birmingham Clean Air Zone plan has been postponed until this time next year.

The introduction of the UK’s first Clean Air Zone is to be significantly postponed due to a UK government delay in delivering digital systems required to make the zones operational and enforceable.

Birmingham had gone ahead with their Clean Air Zone plans on the basis that a vehicle checker tool, which is being delivered by the government’s Joint Air Quality Unit, would be ready by October as planned. Now the unit say it will not be available until at least December — leaving just weeks before the zones were due to come into force in January.

Additionally, the government is now expecting local authorities to deliver a system for collecting payments from noncompliant vehicles which enter the Clean Air Zone — having previously said that it would deliver this.

Not surprisingly, Birmingham City Council has issued a statement expressing its disappointment and saying it had no choice but to postpone, otherwise businesses would have had just days to adapt or change their vehicles.

The council had been instructed by the government to tackle air pollution as soon as possible.

"This is simply unacceptable," said Waseem Zaffar, Birmingham City Council Cabinet Member for Transport and Environment.

“While this does mean people will have longer to make these changes, it will also delay Birmingham in achieving air quality compliance, leaving our city exposed to dirty air for longer than anticipated."

The Birmingham property industry has been cautious about the Clean Air Zone, uncertain how it will impact on property values. The A4550 marks the boundary of the city centre Clean Air Zone. Most diesel vehicles manufactured before 2015, and petrol cars manufactured before 2006, will be charged £8 each time they enter the zone. Buses, coaches and HGVs will be charged £50.