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Birmingham Smog Alert: Will Shoppers And Workers Head Out Of Town If Clean Air Charges Are Levied?

Smog in China: a fate to be avoided

The introduction of a clean air zone in central Birmingham could push shoppers and workers out to surrounding boroughs and business parks, researchers suggest.

The clean air zone, which would mean a £10 charge to drive into the city centre, with coaches and goods vehicles paying up to £100, would divert substantial trade away from the city centre, The Birmingham Post reports.

A survey of more than 2,000 people suggested that nearly one in seven would give up the city centre and head instead for sites like Merry Hill, Dudley, which offers free parking. As many as one in 10 said they would find shopping elsewhere in rival locations like Solihull, whilst a staggering 25% said they would find jobs elsewhere.

The clean air zone proposals have yet to be agreed. They come as Birmingham struggles with high levels of nitrogen dioxide (N02) said to shorten up to 900 lives a year.

According to Defra modelling, the concentration of NO2 in Birmingham’s air is up to 50% higher than it should be.  Birmingham has been designated an Air Quality Management Area under the Environment Act 1995, which means that they have a duty to monitor and report on levels of NO2 and to produce an Air Quality Action Plan to bring the air quality under the limits.

Areas considerly above the limit include Aston Expressway (from Aston Brook Street to Lancaster Circus), St Chad’s Queensway, Great Charles Street Queensway and Suffolk Street Queensway.