New Birmingham Clean Air Zone comes into force today

Birmingham has today become the second city in the UK to launch a Clean Air Zone (CAZ), following Bath.

The Class D zone affects older cars, as well as buses and vans, that produce more toxic emissions. Unlike in Bath, which restricts commercial vehicles only, drivers of non-conforming cars will have to pay a fee to enter Birmingham’s city centre.

This makes the Birmingham zone the first CAZ in the UK to apply restrictions to regular passenger cars.

Clean Air Zones: what you need to know

In order to travel in the CAZ without incurring a charge, vehicles must comply with at least Euro 4 emission standards if they are a petrol model and Euro 6 standards if they’re diesel.

However, some vehicles that fall outside these margins may still be able to avoid the charge: vehicles with a disabled tax class, for example, do not have to pay and there is also a two-year exemption for residents in the zone.

While Birmingham is stricter on passenger cars than Bath, the fees it charges drivers of non-compliant vehicles to enter the CAZ are lower. HGVs, buses and coaches must pay £50 a day to use the CAZ, half the fee charged for comparable vehicles in Bath.

In addition, taxis must pay £8 a day to use the zone, the same fee incurred by drivers of non-conforming regular passenger cars.

The zone encompasses all roads within Birmingham’s A4540 Middleway Ring Road, except the ring road itself, and is operational 24 hours a day, seven days a week, including bank holidays.

The AA has estimated that around 100,000 cars in Birmingham will be affected by the zone.

Birmingham is one of several cities that is getting a CAZ in a bid to lower its emissions and improve air quality. In August, Oxford is expected to install a similar initiative called a Zero Emissions Zone. As its name implies, only zero-emissions vehicles will be able to use this zone without paying a fee.

Other cities expected to adopt CAZs include Bristol, Portsmouth and Manchester.