Birmingham: Clean Air Zone signs seen across the city
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The new tax changes introduced in Birmingham from this morning will see “thousands” of drivers affected with higher charges even if they can’t afford to pay the fines. The new Clean Air Zone will force drivers of heavily polluting cars, taxis and vans to pay £8 per day to use roads within the city centre.
Coaches, buses and Heavy Goods vehicles such as lorries will face a £50 per day charge.
The charging zone are roads within the popular Middleway which included many of the cities main attractions.
The fee will be charged from midnight to midnight, 365 days a year with drivers having to pay two charges if they enter the zone before midnight and leave just after.
However, the AA President has attacked the scheme warning drivers on low incomes could struggle to pay the charges.
Instead, the motoring group has called for the council to simply target “gross polluters” who they say contribute “50 percent of the problem”.
AA President Edmund King said: “Poor air quality is a threat that the majority of drivers agree needs to be addressed and reduced; in due course electric vehicles will largely eradicate those emissions.
“However, the car CAZs in Bristol and Birmingham and the extended ULEZ in London are very blunt tools that create a tax burden for low-income families and workers.
“These drivers are least able to afford to replace the vehicles they depend on for work, often night shifts, and sometimes emergencies such as going to hospital or health care centres.
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“They are also the ones least able to pay the fines. Studies have indicated that approximately 10 percent of ‘gross polluters’, that tend to be older lorries, buses or badly serviced cars, cause 50 percent of the problem.
“Rather than hitting thousands of car drivers, it would be more effective to target the gross polluters.”
Research from Birmingham Council indicated 23 percent of cars travelling onto the zone in 2020 would have been non-compliant.
A public consultation carried out for the council back in 2017 found a massive 44 percent of local residents would be affected by the charge.
Birmingham city council has predicted the scheme could generate income of more than £100million up to 2027.
They project gross income could be more than £27million over the first year as drivers get used to the new scheme.
Mr King said other cities have taken a different stance instead of charging their residents.
Many have decided to introduce extra park and ride schemes and extra incentives for electric car owners.
He added: “Other cities have adopted different approaches, [such as] CAZs that target initially bigger polluters such as lorries, buses, vans and taxis – with the option to include cars if the first step fails to reduce pollution levels enough.
“Some, like Coventry, have come up with an alternative to a CAZ.
“And Cambridge converts 3.6 million inner-city car journey into bus journeys each year through a Park and Ride system that is in the right place, at the right time, at the right price.
“It is a system that not only dwarfs Birmingham’s 2.47 million projected non-compliant vehicles entering the CAZ over three years but will reduce pollution and congestion long after the Government’s 2027 CAZ cut-off.”
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