What does Birmingham’s Clean Air Zone mean for Commercial Vehicle drivers?
From Tuesday 1st of June Birmingham’s Clean Air Zone became operational across the city centre.
Drivers of high-polluting vehicles are set to pay a daily charge to travel into the centre of Birmingham, in a bid to improve the city’s overall air quality by discouraging the most polluting vehicles from entering the zone.
Where does Birmingham’s Clean Air Zone operate?
The Zone covers all roads inside the A450 Middleway ring road, including the whole of the city centre, parts of Bordesley and Newtown, Digbeth, Highgate, parts of Ladywood and the Jewellery Quarter.
What vehicles are compliant?
The list of compliant vehicles that will not be charged are as follows:
- Diesel – Euro 6 (VI) standard or better (roughly end of 2015 onwards)
- Petrol - Euro 4 standard or better (roughly 2006 onwards)
- Gas – Euro 6 (VI) standard or better
- Fully electric or hydrogen fuel cell – all are compliant and avoid CAZ charges
- Hybrid electric – the diesel/petrol engine must meet the relevant criteria above
What about exemptions?
A range of people and vehicle types will be exempt from the Clean Air Zone charges even if the vehicle is classed as ‘high polluting’. Most exemptions will only last a year or two from the date the zone is opened.
The following are exempt from the Clean Air Zone:
- Commercial vehicles registered within the Clean Air Zone, including HGVs, light goods vehicles and coaches – up to a maximum of two per company. These will be exempt from charges for the first year.
- Vans and minibuses registered as providing essential community and school transport services (those classified as section 19 operators), registered for operation in Birmingham
- Vehicles registered to the addresses of residents living inside the Clean Air Zone won't have to pay for the first two years
- People visiting key hospitals, GPs and care homes inside the Clean Air Zone will be exempt for the first year only
- People travelling into the Clean Air Zone for work will be exempt for the first year only
- Vehicles registered with disabled tax class
For further information about exemptions for commercial vehicles, visit https://www.brumbreathes.co.uk/info/23/organisations-1/10/youre-employer-staff-drive-work-birmingham
How much is the charge for a non-compliant vehicle?
High-polluting vans will be charged £8 a day, whilst high-polluting trucks will be charged £50 a day. For an HGV travelling into the CAZ five days a week, that’s approximately £13,000 per year.
When do the charges apply?
Daily charges within the Clean Air Zone apply 24 hours a day (midnight to midnight), 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Within a given day, you can drive in and out of the zone as many times as you want and will only pay one charge.
However, if you drive in the zone across two days (overnight for example), you will need to pay two daily charges.
Charges do not apply if a vehicle, below the emissions standard, is parked in the zone and is not turned on.
How do I pay the clean air charge?
Drivers will be able to pay the charge up to six days in advance of their visit, on the day of the visit itself, or within six days after the visit.
Vehicles entering the CAZ will be registered by automatic number plate recognition cameras. It is up to the driver to recognise they have entered the zone and to make payment; they will not receive notification or a reminder that they have incurred a charge.
You can pay online using the Government’s payment system or over the phone by calling 0300 029 8888 (Monday - Friday, 8am - 4:30pm).
Businesses can also set up a fleet account.
Failure to pay during this period will result in an additional fine of up to £120. That is reduced to £60 if paid within 14 days.
What are the options if my van or truck doesn’t comply?
If your van or truck isn’t compliant, you have three options:
- Pay the daily charge
- Upgrade your vehicle to a CAZ compliant model
- Adapt your existing vehicle to make it compliant
What support is available for businesses?
The Business Breathes website provides fleet managers and self-employed drivers with the information they need to make the switch to greener, cleaner transport options. For more details, visit https://businessbreathes.co.uk/.
What financial support is available?
For small to medium sized businesses with fleets of trucks, that don’t meet emissions regulations, financial incentives are on offer to the Director’s of these companies. The trucks must be registered and kept within the Clean Air Zone to qualify.
Up to £15,000 per vehicle is available for 'retrofitting' to reduce emissions so that they no longer face being charged. A similar amount can be given towards the purchase or lease of a new truck.
Businesses may also be able to get up to £15,000 to relocate their company outside the zone. For further details and to apply for any of these schemes, see the council's Brum Breathes webpage on financial incentives.
To find out more, visit https://www.brumbreathes.co.uk/ or speak to a member of the team who will be able to support in calculating the best option for you and your business.
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