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Birmingham asks for Clean Air Zone to be postponed amid Covid-19

Birmingham City Council has written to central government requesting the launch of its Clean Air Zone be postponed.

Birmingham has asked for the start date of its Class C charging Clean Air Zone to be postponed until the end of 2020

Originally due to go live in January, Birmingham’s ‘Class D’ zone was pushed back to the summer following delays to the Government’s supporting vehicle check services and would have levied charges on all non-compliant vehicles, from cars to vans, HGVs and buses.

However, the council has requested to delay the launch of the zone until at least the end of 2020 as it highlights how both residents and businesses are being impacted by Covid-19 and are unable to look into switching to compliant vehicles.

The council has added that any postponement would be kept under constant review in conjunction with the Government’s Joint Air Quality Unit.

Councillor Waseem Zaffar, cabinet member for transport and environment, said: “The current situation has meant we need to make changes to our original plans. Covid-19 is having a profound impact on the economy of the city and our preparations for the Clean Air Zone.

“However, air pollution remains an ongoing concern for this city. Once we have addressed coronavirus in the immediate term, poor air quality will continue to be a significant issue in the long term, and we should not be complacent.

“We believe that a Clean Air Zone in Birmingham remains the most effective way of making a sustainable improvement to Birmingham’s air quality and we will continue to put in place the infrastructure required to support it.”

Applications are still open though for Clean Air Zone temporary exemption permits. These will be available to residents, low-income workers and businesses in the Clean Air Zone for a period of one to two years after launch and are subject to eligibility criteria.

Commenting on both announcements, Natalie Chapman, head of urban policy at the FTA, said: “As the business organisation representing the logistics sector, FTA supports the decision made by Oxford City Council and Oxfordshire County Council to postpone the introduction of the ZEZ; we also support Birmingham City Council and Leeds City Council in their requests to government to have their CAZs postponed. Delaying the introduction of these schemes will allow businesses operating within the logistics sector to focus their efforts on ensuring the public, supermarkets and other retailers all receive the essential items needed during this pandemic. We urge other cities with impending clean air schemes to follow suit; with logistics businesses facing unprecedented demand for food, hygiene products, medicines and other basic items, the right framework must be in place to support these workers through these extraordinary times and to keep the supply chain intact.” 

Chapman added: “FTA fully and wholeheartedly supports the need to improve air quality. It is simply that these schemes pose a major change, and currently our industry cannot undertake the work and planning it needs to do in order to achieve smooth compliance or be certain it has the funds to make these changes. As well as the administrative difficulties logistics is experiencing, supplies of technology, equipment and trucks are already being disrupted and more effects are expected. This will further hinder efforts to comply with these schemes and service our cities efficiently.” 

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Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for nearly 20 years, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006. Prior to this, she worked on a range of B2B titles, including Insurance Age and Insurance Day.