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Birmingham’s Air Quality Action Plan to go out to consultation

Birmingham City Council has approved a consultation on the latest version of its Air Quality Action Plan, which includes a Class D charging Clean Air Zone due for launch in 2021 but also targeting a range of actions across the city.

Birmingham’s latest Air Quality Action Plan includes an inner city Class D Clean Air Zone, including cars and vans, from 2021 but also targets wider city measures

The council was originally scheduled to launch a CAZ – covering all vehicle types – in January 2020 along with Leeds; both of which would have been the first CAZs in the UK after the London Ultra Low Emission Zone.

However, the schemes were initially put back until this summer due to delays with the Government’s online vehicle checker service and then postponed until 2021 due to the pandemic.

Members of Birmingham City Council’s Cabinet committee have now approved a consultation on its latest draft Air Quality Action Plan, which replaces the existing action plan launched in 2011 and sets out seven key actions points to reduce nitrogen dioxide emissions across Birmingham, as well as including a CAZ for the inner city.

In particular, the council says in the plan: “Our priorities are to implement the Clean Air Zone and mitigation measures, support and implement strategic transport improvements, promote behaviour change away from single occupancy vehicle use, promote alternatively fuelled vehicles and develop policies to support better air quality. In addition, specific measures will be identified once locations where exceedances persist outside of the CAZ area have been identified, and industrial and domestic emissions will also be controlled; as transport related emissions reduce, the relative importance of these sources will increase.”

The plan prioritises identifying locations outside the Clean Air Zone with persistently high nitrogen dioxide levels; reducing emissions from road transport (particularly diesel) and ensuring other sources of air pollution, including industrial and domestic, are controlled through planning policies and determination.

In addition to the Clean Air Zone, the action plan looks at implementing strategic transport improvements; such as promoting alternatively fuelled vehicles and discouraging single person journeys in private vehicles.

It also promotes developing policies to support better air quality; including controlling industrial and domestic emissions and assessing traffic management in areas exceeding air quality.

Explaining the need to expand the action plan from just an inner city-focused Clean Air Zone, Cllr Waseem Zaffar, Birmingham City Council’s Cabinet Member for Transport and the Environment, said: “There are several routes across Birmingham where nitrogen oxide levels exceed legal guidelines. Everyone has the right to breathe safe, clean air and this action plan will set out how we intend to make that happen.

“The Clean Air Zone, which will launch in 2021, focuses on tackling air pollution in the city centre where nitrogen dioxide levels are at their highest but there is more to Birmingham than the inner ring road. This plan will help to identify locations outside the centre to make sure the whole of Birmingham – including its suburbs and residential areas – has safe and legal levels of nitrogen dioxide.”

Ahead of the consultation, the draft plan is available to read on the Birmingham City Council website.

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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.