As part of the Government’s ongoing efforts to meet EU air quality targets through the introduction of measures including Clean Air Zones (CAZ), a trial to gather information on vehicle emissions in Birmingham has started this week.
The project, developed by Birmingham City Council, has seen seven ANPR cameras installed on key routes into the city centre to capture data on the Euro emissions classification of vehicles.
Information gathered during the 12-month trial will assist in providing information for scoping studies being undertaken by the council and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) to confirm overall emissions levels and identify tipping points whereby the levels become legally acceptable based on the types of vehicle in use.
The Government has submitted information to the European Commission which indicates that the West Midlands region will not be compliant with current targets until 2025 – which is 15 years beyond the compliance date and 10 years after an extension already granted by the EU.
In order to ensure that compliance is achieved in as short a timeframe as possible and to avoid any fines that may be passed down by government to a council level, local authorities such as Birmingham must explore every possibility, with this trial providing more accurate local data and also a better understanding of the technological options for a CAZ.
Ultimately this will help the council shape the Clean Air Zone recently mandated by the Government – which will cover diesel vehicles but not private cars.
Cllr Lisa Trickett, Cabinet Member for Sustainability at Birmingham City Council, said: “Successive governments pushed the use of diesel technology as a way of reducing environmentally harmful carbon emissions – but the knock-on effect has been an increase in levels of pollutants that are harmful to human health, such as nitrogen dioxide in towns and cities across the country.
“Road transport emissions are reported to account for around 600 premature deaths each year in Birmingham alone – meaning this is a 21st Century public health scandal, and there is no escape from the need to look at how we can reduce these emissions.
“Here in Birmingham we have been concerned by this for a long time. Through our Birmingham Connected urban mobility plan and the Birmingham Development Plan we are looking at how we can deliver better long-term sustainable public and private transport options to alleviate wider issues of traffic congestion, but we also need to do something on air quality.
“The government’s announcement of Clean Air Zones for a number of towns and cities entirely justifies the efforts we have been making for some time on this front, however I want it to be made absolutely clear that we are not talking about issuing fines or charges at this stage – we are simply gathering data on the Euro classification of vehicles coming into the city that is essential to informing our clean air plans going forward. Any eventual CAZ would also not apply to private motor vehicles and this is not a congestion charge.”
Notes to editors
The trial will cost £50,000. Of this, £30,000 has been agreed by the Low Emissions Towns and Cities Programme (LETCP) Project Board as the project is seen to have transferable knowledge which will benefit the wider West Midlands. These monies are sourced from Defra grants and Defra have approved their use for this project as the Department is keen to explore the viability of LEZ within major urban areas. The outputs from the project will be clearly communicated to the LETCP Project Board for use by the board. A £20,000 contribution has also been proposed by the city council because as noted above the project aligns with current thinking (the Birmingham Connected White Paper acknowledged the possible need for a LEZ).
The West Midlands Urban Area air quality data is as follows (Source: Air Quality Plan for the achievement of EU air quality limit value for nitrogen dioxide (NO2) in West Midlands Urban Area (UK0002), December 2015):
Annual mean NO2 model results
|Road length exceeding (km)||189.9||4.3||0||0|
|Background exceeding (km sq)||0||0||0||0|
|Maximum modelled concentration NO2 (μgm-3) (a)||70||47||38||35|
|Corresponding modelled concentration NOx (μgm-3) (b)||185||118||93||84|
(a) Annual Mean Limit Value = 40 μgm-3
(b) NOx is recorded here for comparison with the NOx source apportionment graphs for 2013 presented in Annex B of this plan. Limit values for EU directive purposes are based on NO2
The locations for the ANPR cameras are as follows:
Site 1 A456 Broad Street
Site 2 A457 Summer Hill Road
Site 3 A38(M) Aston Expressway (two cameras)
Site 4 B4100 Digbeth
Site 5 A38 Bristol Street
Site 6 A34 Newtown Row
For the Government’s press notice on the establishment of Clean Air Zones in Birmingham and other towns/cities, please visit: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/improving-air-quality-in-cities or for a general overview: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/air-quality-plan-for-nitrogen-dioxide-no2-in-uk-2015
For more media information please contact Kris Kowalewski on 0121 303 3621