COVID-19 pandemic could see Birmingham CAZ face further delays, council warns

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The delayed Birmingham Clean Air Zone (CAZ) could face further setbacks due to the coronavirus pandemic, the council has warned.

Birmingham City Council was forced to delay the launch of its CAZ in January this year following issues with the government’s online vehicle checking tool.

The launch date was pushed back to June and while the council is still aiming for that date it warned this week the COVID-19 outbreak could create further delays.

A spokesperson from Birmingham City Council said: “We remain committed to launching the Clean Air Zone in line with the previously-stated estimate of summer 2020.

“However, we are conscious of the potential economic impact COVID-19 may have on our plans and will continue to monitor the situation closely.”

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The Birmingham City CAZ, which lies within the A4540 ring road, will charge non-Euro-6 HGVs and buses £50 to enter the zone, with non-compliant cars charged £8.

Meanwhile Leeds’ CAZ, which was also delayed by problems with the government’s online vehicle checking tool, is set to launch on 28 September this year, the council has confirmed.

Cllr James Lewis, executive member with responsibility for air quality, said: “Having been forced to delay the introduction of the zone last year due to delays to government systems, I am delighted that we are now able to confirm a go-live date for the Leeds Clean Air Charging Zone giving affected businesses clarity to help them prepare for the zone’s introduction.”

Leeds City Council has pumped £5.4m in financial support to help local businesses switch to cleaner vehicles with an additional £3.1m provisionally approved. Some of this has gone to helping HGV, bus and coach operators upgrade or retrofit more than 253 vehicles.

Cllr Lewis added: “We’re already seeing improvements to our city’s air quality thanks to the thousands of drivers that have already switched to less-polluting vehicles.

“As more businesses switch to cleaner vehicles to avoid charges, we will no doubt continue to deliver even more improvements.”

Leeds CAZ will charge non-Euro-6 HGVs, buses and coaches £50 a day, while non-Euro-6 diesel and non-Euro-4 petrol taxis and private hire vehicles will incur a £12.50 daily charge. Private vehicles will not be charged.

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