The Government has approved Birmingham's Clean Air Zone proposals but left the city council with a £16m funding gap.

The authority has been granted £38m from the Clean Air Fund to pay for mitigation measures out of £50m which which was sought, and £14.2m out of £17.8m requested to go towards implementation costs.

It means the proposed charges for high polluting vehicles of £8 for cars and £50 for buses and HGVs, will remain the same while a host of exemptions previously tabled are also set to go ahead.

However the council stated the government 'knocked them back' in a few areas including funding controlled parking zones just outside the Clean Air Zone (CAZ)   area -  within A4540 ring road - which would have granted residents free permits to leave their cars outside of their homes.

Nitrogen dioxide levels are too high in Birmingham.
 

But transport and environment chief Cllr Waseem Zaffar moved to reassure residents in those areas, such as Nechells, that the authority would find another 'mechanism' to address the issue of people potentially driving to neighbourhoods 'dumping' their cars there before walking into the CAZ.

While another setback means the council will have limited powers to introduce a scrappage scheme however Cllr Zaffar said he will continue to lobby the government for a national scrappage scheme which he said would also benefit the motor industry.

One significant aspect of the funding application is that the £15m sought to support Hackney Carriage and private hire drivers was granted.

It comes amid go-slow protests in the city from the trade who argue the CAZ is a threat to their livelihood.

Traffic builds into Birmingham city centre.
Traffic builds into Birmingham city centre.
 

Following the announcement Cllr Zaffar said: "Getting more than three quarters the money we asked for is substantial.

"I am disappointed we didn't get 100 per cent but we can certainly move forward in delivering this scheme this city desperately needs.

"We feel that we will have sufficient resources to get the balance right between introducing a very much needed Clean Air Zone and supporting the communities and businesses potentially affected by these measures.

"It is the start of the fightback against the public health crisis in this city which causes 900 premature deaths a year.

"I'm pleased that we will have nearly £15m to support the taxi community to upgrade to cleaner and greener vehicles, enabling them to continue providing their valuable service to the city."

He added that he would continue to work with the council's licensing team, including Cllr Barbara Dring the chairman of the Licensing and Public Protection Committee, to secure measures to support taxi drivers.

The CAZ is not a congestion charge and will only apply to non-compliant vehicles -  diesels older than a EURO 6 (manufactured before 2015) and petrol cars older than EURO 4 (made before 2006).

The area inside the Middle Ring Road (A4540) highlighted in green. The proposed area for a new clean air zone (CAZ) surrounding Birmingham city centre, under which vehicles responsible for pollution will be charged.
 

Exemptions 

  • One year for commercial vehicles registered within the CAZ.
  • One year for commercial vehicles registered in Birmingham travelling into the CAZ with an existing finance agreement beyond 2020.
  • Two years for private cars registered within the CAZ.
  • One year for people travelling into the CAZ for work.
  • One year for visitors to hospitals, GPs and care homes within the CAZ.
  • Permanent exemptions for vans and minibuses registered to provide school and community transport.
  • Permanent exemptions for vehicles with disabled tax class.