The Birmingham City Council fully implemented their Clean Air Zone (CAZ) on June 14, 2021. Three months later, residents are enjoying cleaner air, and air pollution campaigners and environmentalists consider this a major success in their efforts to improve the quality of air in the city.
According to the latest data, since the Clean Air Zone was launched , monitoring stations have indicated a significant reduction in pollution levels, particularly those caused by NO2 or nitrogen dioxide emissions. Although it was somewhat controversial when first implemented, Birmingham’s CAZ is proving to be an effective solution for bringing down air pollution levels to within the legal limit, something that hasn’t happened in years.
The British Lung Foundation and Asthma UK’s Harriet Edwards agrees that Clean Air Zones are efficient and effective in keeping toxic air in safer levels. It is a viable remedy for a problem that the city has been trying to correct for years.
About the Birmingham CAZ
Birmingham’s Clean Air Zone, introduced by the Birmingham City Council at the instructions of the UK government, is a major scheme intended to address the poor air quality in the city and country. Approximately 900 people die every year in Birmingham because of polluted air.
A Clean Air Zone is also implemented to address problems resulting from the diesel emission scandal that first broke out in 2015 through German car manufacturer Volkswagen. The CAZ seeks to control the number of vehicles with high NO2 emissions from entering the city centre. Vehicles implicated in the emissions claim release nitrogen dioxide at levels way over the legal limit.
The Birmingham CAZ scheme, the first of its kind outside of London, requires private car drivers to pay a fee when they drive into or pass through the city centre in vehicles with high NO2 emissions. The goal is to bring down dangerous emission levels to 40 micrograms per cubic metre.
The city’s Clean Air Zone is categorised as Class D, which means it covers taxis, private hire vehicles, buses, coaches, HGVs, vans, minibuses and, depending on local authorities, motorcycles. Only cars travelling within or to the city centre or the A4540 are charged.
For diesel and petrol cars caught violating the emissions standards, drivers are charged £8 per day if they want to enter the city centre. A £50 fee is charged to drivers of coaches and HGVs.
Before the Clean Air Zone was implemented, Birmingham’s city centre had high pollution levels, especially during weekdays, when the numbers were at 45-60 micrograms per cubic metre. The legal limit is set at less than 40 micrograms per cubic metre, and the weekday numbers are a recipe for respiratory problems, irritated airways, and mild to severe asthma attacks.
Today, weekday rush hour pollution levels have decreased to almost below 40 micrograms per cubic metre.
Pollution levels now
After the implementation of the Clean Air Zone, Birmingham’s air quality has been reduced by at least 20%, particularly when compared to numbers lifted from the same time frame in 2019 and 2020.
Changes in nitrogen dioxide emission levels in Birmingham from June to August 2021 are as follows:
- Colmore Row = down by 13.31%
- Severn Street = lower by 18.97%
- Queensway = a 7.19%
Outside the Clean Air Zone, the air pollution levels increased by around 5.14%.
A spokesperson from the Birmingham City Council acknowledged the improvement and positive effects of the scheme but cautiously added that the city’s Clean Air Zone is still in its early stages. Nevertheless, it is a welcome change for residents and authorities.
Objections to Birmingham’s CAZ
Before the Birmingham Clean Air Zone was implemented three months ago, several residents expressed their objections to the scheme, emphasising the possible negative impacts it might have in the city. A number of hospitality businesses also expressed their opposition to the scheme because of its effect on the economy.
Local authorities and pollution experts were quick to acknowledge these apprehensions but assured the general population that the CAZ is beneficial for everyone. The scheme is particularly good for residents in Birmingham’s highly polluted residential areas.
The early success of the Clean Air Zone has prompted some residents to request for an expanded coverage. One of these residents was environmental campaigner Sandra Green.
Sandra’s children attend a school in the outer part of the city, an area not covered by the CAZ. The air quality in the area is bad and she cannot help but be concerned and worry about her children’s safety. Her children may be safe for now, but she’s not so confident about the future. The only solution that she sees is for the Clean Air Zone to expand and include the city’s outer parts.
As already mentioned, one of the reasons for the implementation of Clean Air Zones is the Dieselgate scandal. To ensure your car is not affected by the emissions issue, visit your manufacturer’s website and look for the list of models that are being recalled. If it is on the list, seek the help of an experienced solicitor or a team of emissions compensation experts such as the ones you’ll find at Emissions.co.uk.
Their team are currently taking on claims for Mercedes owners who have been affected by the diesel emissions scandal. If you believe you have a Mercedes Diesel Emission claim, get in touch today.