The controversial plans to introduce a clean air zone by 2020 to Government for approval. Senior councillors in Birmingham have agreed a plan for a clean air zone that charges high polluting vehicles. Opposition councillors confront the plan to charge high polluting vehicles.
Details are still being ironed-out but the plans have been labelled a ‘dogs breakfast’ of rushed proposals which will hit businesses and low income residents according to opposition councillors.
Under the proposed scheme high polluting cars, lorries and buses will be charged to enter the city centre within A4540 middle ring road.
Cllr Jon Hunt (Lib Dem, Perry Barr) said: “This is a huge step for the city, but one which is being taken with great haste.”
“This is not focused on where people live, but the city centre where the businesses are.”
He said that polluting cars using the A38 Aston Expressway will be forced to bypass the city centre, clogging up the already busy Darmouth Circus and delivering more pollution to the residents of Newtown, Aston and Nechells.
“It is a dogs breakfast of a scheme.”
He asked why there was no plan for a subsidised park and ride scheme to encourage people to take public transport.
Cllr Alden (Cons, Erdington) said that the proposed £2,000 scrappage scheme would not allow those on low incomes to upgrade to a much newer and cleaner car. He said the retail industry had also been ignored even though large numbers of people said they would no longer shop in Birmingham if charged.
“It’s the wrong plan for Birmingham, ignores the consultation, it is going to harm residents and businesses, particularly those on low incomes.”
His cabinet colleague Brett O’Reilly (Lab, West Heath) compared it to the 1956 clean air act. “People said it would cripple the economy and cause untold harm but it prevented deaths and promoted the health of communities who couldn’t afford to go to the countryside.”
Speaking after the meeting Green councillor Julien Pritchard (Druids Heath and Monyhull) said: “We’re finally seeing Birmingham City Council show leadership tackling air pollution, but these plans are by no means perfect.”
“We’re told the only way to meet legal limits is to introduce a charge for the most polluting vehicles. A position the city is in because of a complete lack of action on air pollution over many years.”
“The city centre is not the only part of the city suffering from appalling air quality, but the council plans focus too narrowly on meeting legal limits in the city centre, and does not take a much needed city-wide approach.
“We urgently need investment in alternatives such as public transport and walking & cycling to really tackle the city’s appalling air quality in the long term.”