With the arts, culture, hospitality, retail and nighttime economy sectors desperate to put the past 14 months behind them and start welcoming back customers, there’s one thing that people travelling into Birmingham city centre by car need to be aware of.

From Tuesday 1 June, the city will join with Bath in introducing the central government-enforced Clean Air Zone policy (CAZ). Although this is a step forward in terms of protecting the environment for future generations, the policy will have a negative financial impact on individuals who are driving cars of a certain age into the zone.

Despite widespread recognition that the environment needs to be protected, there have nevertheless been calls for Birmingham City Council to delay its implementation of the new policy until 2022. 

Unions representing musicians, theatre workers and actors in Birmingham recently sent an open letter to City Council leader Ian Ward, urging him to put CAZ on hold and to implement a support scheme for the cultural sector. At the time of going to print, CAZ remains on schedule to come into effect on the 1st of June, and there’s no word on any support scheme. 

So what do people need to know about Birmingham’s new Clean Air Zone policy?

WHO HAS TO PAY?
Vehicles meeting the following criteria are exempt from paying to enter the city’s clean air zone.
Diesel Euro 6 (VI) standard or better. Roughly from the end of 2015 onwards
Petrol Euro 4 standard or better. Roughly from the end of 2015 onwards
Gas Euro 6 (VI) standard or better
Fully electric or hydrogen fuel cell all compliant and avoid any charges.
Hybrid Electric the diesel/petrol engine must meet the relevant criteria above
Check where you stand at gov.uk/clean-air-zones

IN THE ZONE:
Birmingham's Clean Air Zone, which is everywhere within the A4540 Middleway (but not the Middleway itself) will operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. Signage is to be installed on the road network surrounding the boundary, to inform motorists that they are approaching the zone.

CHARGES:
Cars, taxis and LGVs cost £8 per day. Coaches, buses and HGVs £50 per day. A day is classified as midnight to midnight. If you cross the threshold of this, you will be charged for two days.

PAYMENT:
Motorists can pay six days prior to, and up to six days after their visit. The onus is on the driver to ensure payment is made within this window, as no notification of charge will be issued. Failure to do so will result in a penalty charge of £120.

HOW TO PAY:
Call 0300 029 8888 (Monday - Friday, 8am - 4.30pm), or pay online at gov.uk

WHERE WILL THE MONEY GO?:
All revenue raised from CAZ and subsequent fines will be used to fund sustainable transport-related measures such as walking and cycling routes and public transport.
Financial incentives are available (eligibility applies) for taxi drivers, private hire drivers and those who work in the Clean Air Zone but live outside it.  

More information about CAZ can be found at brumbreathes.co.uk