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Drivers are being urged to prepare for the introduction of the Birmingham Clean Air Zone (CAZ) by checking to see if their vehicle will be subject to the charge.

The CAZ will be introduced in January 2020 as part of a concerted effort to improve the city’s overall air quality, as well as reduce emissions of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide.

To help businesses and city centre drivers plan, the Business Breathes website, which has been launched as part of Brum Breathes, Birmingham City Council’s air quality campaign, has advice on which vehicles will be subject to the charge.

The authority has announced a package of measures that will help businesses and individuals affected by the CAZ, after it was allocated £38 million from the Clean Air Fund for support measures. This includes almost £15 million to help taxi drivers to upgrade to cleaner, greener vehicles.

Commercial vehicles – buses, coaches, Hackney cabs and HGVs – that do not meet the criteria can use retrofit technology that is approved by the Clean Vehicle Retrofit Accreditation Scheme. This could be installing exhaust-after-treatment systems, which reduce harmful particulate matter and nitrogen oxide emissions, or having re-power system, which replaces the non-compliant engine with a new, cleaner one.

The council has also said it will introduce a range of exemptions for eligible businesses and individuals – including residents living within the CAZ, those travelling to a place of work that is in the CAZ and commercial vehicles registered in the CAZ – to give them additional time to change to compliant vehicles.

However, for those not exempt, the most polluting cars, taxis and vans that do not meet the standards will be charged daily £8 to the enter the CAZ, while non-compliant HGVs, buses and coaches will be subject to a £50 daily charge.

All vehicles must meet the following fuel type criteria if they are to avoid the charge:

  • Euro VI diesel or newer, which applies to most diesel engines registered after September 1 2015;
  • Euro 4 standard or newer for petrol vehicles – or LPG added to original petrol engine, which applies to most new registrations after 1 January 2006;
  • Euro 6 gas standard or better;
  • All fully electric or hydrogen fuel cell;
  • Hybrid electric are compliant if they meet the relevant criteria for diesel or petrol engines.

If drivers are unsure about the Euro band of their vehicle, they are advised to contact the manufacturer directly. The Government is currently developing a number plate checker which will provide the Euro band. It is anticipated this will go live by Q4 this year.

Councillor Waseem Zaffar, Cabinet Member for Transport and Environment at Birmingham City Council, said: “The Clean Air Zone will represent a significant change in terms of the way people travel around the city, so it is important that those who rely on the use of vehicles for their business are able to make the necessary preparations and access the relevant support ahead of its implementation in January 2020.

“The Business Breathes website provides a valuable one-stop shop for fleet managers and self-employed drivers to access the information they need to make the switch to greener, cleaner transport options, ensuring Birmingham stays open for business while also helping the city achieve cleaner air for those who live and work here.”

The CAZ will encompass all roads within the A4540 Middleway ring road and vehicle number recognition will be used to identify vehicles that do not meet the standards.

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