Air pollution and frequently asked questions

Frequently asked questions (FAQs) general

What is a Clean Air Zone?

A Clean Air Zone is an area where targeted action is taken to improve air quality, particularly because of pollution from road vehicles. In Birmingham, we are introducing a charging Clean Air Zone, where the most polluting vehicles must pay if they wish to drive in the zone.

When will the Birmingham Clean Air Zone be introduced?

The Birmingham Clean Air Zone has been delayed due to the ongoing Covid 19 pandemic and will now be launched on 1 June 2021. 

What is air pollution and what causes it?

Air pollution has two main parts:

  • Exhaust fumes from vehicle engines contain a group of gases called nitrogen oxides. These include nitrogen dioxide (NO2), a harmful gas produced by burning fossil fuels like petrol and diesel.
  • Particulate matter (PM) is made up of partially-burned fuel – petrol or diesel – together with engine oils, tiny specks from worn tyres, brake discs and road dust.

Why is a Clean Air Zone being introduced in Birmingham?

Up to 1,000 deaths a year in Birmingham are caused by air pollution, mostly caused by road transport and the increased use of diesel vehicles. By contrast, there are, on average, fewer than 30 deaths resulting from collisions on Birmingham’s roads each year. The Clean Air Zone will reduce air pollution and improve the health of Birmingham’s citizens.

Where is the location of the Birmingham Clean Air Zone?

Birmingham’s Clean Air Zone will cover all the roads within the A4540 Middleway Ring Road, but not the Middleway itself.

What types of vehicles will be charged to enter the Clean Air Zone?

Birmingham is implementing a category D Clean Air Zone which means that the following vehicles which are not compliant will be charged:

  • Buses
  • Coaches
  • HGVs (lorries)
  • LGVs (vans),
  • Taxis (including private hire vehicles and Hackney/black cabs)
  • Cars

Mopeds/motorcycles will not be charged for entering the CAZ.

What vehicles will not be charged to enter the Clean Air Zone?

Vehicles which meet the following criteria will not be charged:

  • Diesel – Euro 6 (VI) standard or better (roughly end of 2015 onwards)
  • Petrol or LPG added to original petrol engine – 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

You can check if your vehicle will be charged by using the Government vehicle checker.

I have a Euro 4 petrol or Euro 6 diesel vehicle but the Government vehicle checker said I will be charged; why?

Some Euro 4 and Euro 6 vehicles that were registered close to the date that these emission standards were introduced are being shown as non-compliant in the Birmingham Clean Air Zone. The vehicle checker is a new service and results are continuously being improved. If you believe your result to be incorrect you will need to contact the DVLA to have your vehicle details updated.

Why will my vehicle be charged in Birmingham but not in London?

It is not clear what data the London Ultra Low Emission Zone compliance checker utilises so we would recommend always checking compliance using the official DVLA checker on our website:

Why do I have to pay to enter Birmingham city centre?

This is not a charge to visit the city centre, or a congestion charge. This is a charge for the most polluting vehicles only.
Approximately three quarters of vehicles entering the CAZ will not be charged, so it is essential for users to check their compliance in advance of using the zone or making applications for exemptions/incentives, as they may already be compliant and face no charge/further action.
We would prefer that the most polluting vehicles are not used in the Clean Air Zone and that people change their habits, switching to walking, cycling, public transport, cleaner vehicles or avoid the area. The cost is intended to encourage people to make these changes.
However, we will not ban any vehicles from the CAZ, so if people do still choose to use a more polluting vehicle, they will have to pay the daily charge.

How much will I be charged?

If your vehicle is not compliant the daily charge to drive in the Clean Air Zone will be:

  • £8 for cars, taxis (Hackney Carriages/black cabs & Private Hire), LGVs (vans)
  • £50 for HGVs (trucks and lorries), coaches and buses.

How do I pay the Clean Air Zone charge?

There are several ways you will be able to pay the Clean Air Zone (CAZ) charge including online and by phone with the JAQU (Joint Air Quality Unit) National Helpdesk (tel: 0300 029 8888). You will only have to pay the charge once per day, no matter how many times you leave and re-enter the CAZ.
More details on the Clean Air Zone payment system will be released as they are confirmed; you can keep up to date with CAZ developments by signing up for the Brum Breathes newsletter.

What are the timings for the Clean Air Zone?

The CAZ is due to become operational in 2021. It will apply 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. A day’s use runs from midnight to midnight.
Please note: as an example, if you make a journey into the CAZ (with a non-compliant vehicle)at 10pm and leave at 1am, you would be liable for 2 x daily charges, as you would have entered the next daily charging phase (from midnight onwards).

If I go in and out of the zone several times in one day, will I be charged each time?

The charges will be applied daily and run from midnight to midnight. A non-compliant vehicle driving in the CAZ will pay once for the day, and then may drive in the CAZ area without limit on that day. Users of the CAZ will be able to pay the charge up to 6 days in advance of their visit, on the day of the visit itself, or within 6 days after the visit. Failure to pay during this period will result in an additional fine of up to £120 (reduced to £60, if paid within 14-days).

How will the Clean Air Zone be enforced?

Drivers of non-compliant vehicles who drive in the Clean Air Zone (CAZ) will be responsible for paying the CAZ charge – they will not be sent a bill. Signage warning of the CAZ boundaries is in the process of being erected and will cover all sections of the CAZ, ensuring users/drivers are fully aware before entering and leaving the CAZ.
Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) technology will be used to identify which vehicles enter the Clean Air Zone. Vehicles that are not CAZ compliant and not exempt will be identified and charged.
The ANPR technology will be used within the CAZ as well as on the perimeter. This will ensure that non-compliant vehicles are charged for every day that they move within the zone and are not able to evade charges by not leaving and re-entering the CAZ.

What is the number for the National Contact Centre?

The National Helpdesk can be contacted on 0300 029 8888.