Clean Air Zones (CAZs) in each of Bath and Birmingham will each go live in the first half of 2021, it has been confirmed.
The Bath CAZ – which will be the first charging emissions control zone in England outside London – will go live on 15 March 2021. Birmingham’s CAZ will follow on 1 June 2021. Both will require Euro VI standards of coaches and buses if daily charges are to be avoided.
In Bath, the charge for non-compliance will be £100 per day, or £9 per day for M2 category minibuses. Bath and North East Somerset Council is offering support to operators of non-compliant vehicles that regularly travel into the CAZ, or which operate from within it. Temporary exemptions for up to two years can be applied for by those who benefit.
Birmingham’s CAZ was originally scheduled to go live on 1 January 2020. It was first delayed by issues with a government vehicle checker tool. Earlier in 2020, Birmingham City Council requested an extension to the implementation date until “at least the end of this year.”
In Birmingham, a £10m Heavy Duty Vehicle Fund (HDVF) is now open for applications. It captures coaches operated by eligible SMEs. The HDVF will provide up to £15,000 per vehicle towards the cost of Euro VI exhaust retrofit, lease exit, or the lease or purchase of a new or used ‘like for like’ compliant vehicle.
Coaches and buses that enter the Birmingham CAZ and do not meet Euro VI standards will be subject to a daily charge of £50, although temporary exemption permits will be available in some cases.
While Bath and Birmingham are pushing ahead with their CAZs, those in both Bristol and Leeds may not proceed. Changes in travel behaviour and work patterns in those cities brought about by the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic have delivered improvements in air quality. That led to suggestions by their respective local authorities that CAZs may no longer be necessary to comply with legal limits.