Birmingham clean air zone goes live in June – there are better ways to improve air quality, says RHA

8th October 2020

The RHA is disappointed that Birmingham City Council is pressing ahead with controversial plans to hit working vehicles and the public with charges to drive into the city centre next year.

All diesel vehicles – from cars to vans, lorries, taxis, private hire and buses – that don’t meet Euro 6/VI standards will be charged to enter a clean air zone from 1 June 2021.

Encompassing the city centre, the zone cover all roads within the A4540 Middleway Ring Road but not the Middleway itself. The RHA estimates that the charges could impact up to 40 percent of lorries and more than 60 percent of vans entering the zone. This would adversely impact the city centre and those vehicles servicing the construction of HS2 and the Commonwealth Games.

At a time when unemployment is soaring and businesses are grappling with COVID-19, the RHA’s spokesman for the environment, Chris Ashley criticised officials for applying flawed and outdated thinking to improve air quality, branding it a “missed opportunity for Birmingham to build back better”.

He said: “There are better ways to achieve the clean air we all want. Hauliers for example have invested £1.9bn in clean lorries that has seen NOx pollution levels fall by around 60% since 2013. 

“We need officials both locally and nationally to snap out of this negative and reactive mindset of penalising vehicles that do not conform to highly restrictive bureaucratic criteria. It makes no sense to impose the same charge on a cleaner vehicle registered in 2015 than a dirtier one registered in 2000. 

“Instead, we need clear standards that allow businesses to invest with confidence in the clean vehicles of the future that we all want. It is the consistent improvement of standards over time that has driven the large falls in pollution.”

Green recovery ambitions must be sustainable and supported by sensible policies that nurture economic growth, he added.