A Clean Air Zone came into force in Birmingham from 01 June 2021. We explain more about what this means, how it impacts drivers and what cars are exempt
What is a clean air zone?
A Clean Air Zone (CAZ) is an area where action is being taken to improve the quality of the air. One of the main methods this is achieved is by discouraging more polluting vehicles from entering the zone by enforcing a daily charge for travelling in the area.
Why did Birmingham get one?
Birmingham has been identified as one of the cities with the highest levels of air pollution across the UK. Levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) are above the legal limit, and the Government has said the city needs to reduce levels of NO2 in the air to a maximum average of 40μg/m3 as soon as possible.
Poor air quality can increase the risk of respiratory diseases and heart failure, and air pollution contributes to over 1,000 deaths a year in the city.
Where is the Clean Air Zone located?
All roads within the A4540 Middleway Ring Road fall in the Clean Air Zone. The Middleway Ring Road itself is not included in the zone. It operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Which vehicles have to pay the Clean Air Zone charge?
The charge is predominantly aimed at older cars that emit more pollution. Rules are more strict for diesel vehicles with only relatively new Euro 6 models exempt from the charge – roughly from 2015 onwards. Petrol cars are exempt provided they meet Euro 4 standards, which came out in the early 2000s. You can check the Government’s vehicle checker to see if you will have to pay anything and how much.
Vehicles that will not be charged include:
|Fuel Type||Exempt variations|
|Diesel||Euro 6 (VI) standard or better (roughly end of 2015 onwards)|
|Petrol (or LPG added to your original petrol engine)||Euro 4 standard or better (roughly 2006 onwards)|
|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|
How much will I be charged and how do I pay?
The amount you pay depends on the size of your non-compliant vehicle. This is currently:
- £8 for cars, taxis and vans
- £50 for HGVs, coaches and buses.
You will never be charged more than once per day, no matter how often you enter the CAZ during that time period.
You can pay via the phone but the easiest way is to use the Government's online portal.
What happens if I don’t pay the charge?
You can pay for the CAZ charge up to six days in advance of your visit to Birmingham, on the day itself or up to six days after you have visited. If you do not pay the charge within these timeframes, you will incur a fine of up to £120.
Are there any exemptions?
There are some exemptions for residents and workers in the Clean Air Zone:
- Residents in the Clean Air Zone
- Workers in the Clean Air Zone
- Commercial vehicles registered within the Clean Air Zone
- Commercial vehicles with existing finance agreements
- Community and school transport
- Medical practice exemptions
- Emergency service vehicles
- Historic and military vehicles
- Recovery vehicles
- Showman's Vehicle
Anyone in these categories can apply for a temporary exemption permit. More information and the criteria for each can be found here.
Should I change my car to one with lower emissions?
Driving a vehicle that meets the emissions standards for the Clean Air Zone means you don't have to pay the charge.
Birmingham City Council have introduced a Clean Air Zone Travel and Scrappage Scheme, available to those people who work in the Clean Air Zone. The scheme gives eligible drivers the chance to scrap their old car and receive £2,000 credit towards a vehicle that meets the zone’s emissions standard, and is available in partnership with Motorpoint.
Eligibility for the Scrappage and Travel Scheme is as follows:
- You must be the registered keeper of the vehicle that doesn’t meet the Clean Air Zone emissions standards
- Work at least 18 hours per week at a premises in the Clean Air Zone
- Earn less than £30,000pa
- Been the registered keeper of the vehicle since 10 September 2018
Full eligibility criteria can be found here.
Applications for the scheme will open prior to 01 June. In the meantime, you can learn more about the Travel and Scrappage Scheme and how you can receive £2,000 credits towards a CAZ-compliant vehicle with Motorpoint here.