Clean Air Zones – What they are and what they do

Published 05/05/2021
3 minutes Read

Next month, Birmingham will be the latest city to have a clean air zone – but what does it mean and what impact do they have? This blog takes a deeper look at these questions so you don’t have to.

WHAT’S A CLEAN AIR ZONE?

Clean Air Zones are geographically defined locations where targeted action is taken to improve air quality, in particular, by discouraging the most polluting vehicles from entering the zone. Clean air zones were introduced to tackle health and environmental concerns over the levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) in densely populated areas. No vehicle is banned in a clean air zone, but those which do not have clean enough engines will have to pay a daily charge if they travel within the area. Birmingham’s charge will be £8 per day for cars and LGVs and £50 per day for coaches and HGVs. You can read the full details here.

WHY DO WE HAVE CLEAN AIR ZONE?

NO2 is not to be taken lightly. The Royal College of Physicians and of Paediatrics and Child Health estimates that 40,000 premature deaths a year in the UK are linked to poor air quality – with our population growing exponentially, this figure will also increase without affirmative action. Clean Air Zones form one part of a wider investment by local authorities in green initiatives which include upgrading public transport infrastructure, more green urban spaces and cycle paths.

WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF CLEAN AIR ZONES?

  • It encourages the purchase of more eco-friendly vehicles. Compliant vehicles will remain able to enter these zones free of charge; for HGV’s this includes Euro 6 engines, which are defined by all vehicles with 14 plate or newer. Buses and coaches that meet Euro VI emission standards, as well as cars, vans and taxis that meet Euro 6 (for diesel engines) or Euro 4 (for petrol engines) are also exempt, that’s as well as any ultra-low emission vehicles with a significate zero-emission range.
  • It’s a good deterrent for many non-essential journeys, resulting in some drivers avoiding major areas that are suffering from high emissions and major build-up. This could lessen congestion in city centres and leave it open for modes of public transport to run more efficiently.
  • Studies of low emission zones found significant reductions in particulate matter (PM), which are tiny particles in the air that can get into the lungs and cause health problems. Continued exposure to this form of pollution as it only increases without the introduction of CAZ restrictions, could see a rise in the number of poor health cases related to pollutants.

WHAT ARE THE POSSIBLE DRAWBACKS OF CLEAN AIR ZONES?

  • It could have major financial implications on businesses who rely on transporting goods. HGV’s are set to face steep fees ranging from £50-£100 per day in some cities. These charges could cripple many businesses which would seriously impact the logistics industry and its revenues. This could lead to higher transportation fees, longer transport times, the distributions of goods being delayed, and services impacted negatively.
  • Discouraging drivers from the area is likely to have an effect on the situation outside of the zone, creating more out-of-city traffic and increasing fuel consumption with the extra miles covered in order to avoid the CAZ.
  • While the haulage vehicles may downsize, the volume of goods needing to be transported will not. This could mean more smaller transport vehicles on the roads which will increase congestion and emissions.

HOW DOES THIS IMPACT THE EVENTS INDUSTRY?

We will be discussing the importance and impact of clean air zones and other sustainable initiatives at our free hybrid conference Talking Point: The Future of Events, taking place from 2pm – 4pm on Wednesday 26th May at Millennium Point. This two-hour event consists of two panels that will examine what the next 12-18 months has in store for the events industry – topics include CSR, sustainability and current trends. You can join online or in-person to see how a hybrid event at Millennium Point works as well as join in a vital conversation around kickstarting the events and hospitality industry across the UK.

To reserve your free ticket, or for further information, visit the dedicated page here.


Find more interesting content from Millennium Point over at our news section, or follow us for daily updates on FacebookTwitterInstagram and LinkedIn with @MillenniumPoint. Millennium Point is a landmark public building and multi-award-winning events venue in the Eastside of Birmingham City centre. Profits from our commercial activity are invested by the Millennium Point Charitable Trust into projects, events and initiatives which support the growth of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) and education in the West Midlands. 

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