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B'ham: Half a million drivers ignore daily charges and fines


More than half a million fines handed out to drivers for breaching the Clean Air Zone in Birmingham have not been paid as motorists refuse to pay the charges.

The standard penalty charge for driving through the zone is £120 if not paid on time with drivers having up to 28 days to pay the standard charge.

According to a Freedom of Information request, Birmingham City Council issued 536,552 penalty charge notices since February 2022 which have been unpaid.

More than 77,000 penalties issued last year were for the £8 daily fine, while the council issued nearly 400 high penalties for buses, coaches and lorries.

According to research, thousands of motorists were slapped with penalties each month for failing to pay the daily fee. But, 13,391 cases were successfully appealed at the Traffic Penalty Tribunal.

The Clean Air Zone covers central Birmingham where targeted action is taken to improve air quality, in particular by discouraging the most polluting vehicles from entering the zone.

While no vehicle is banned in the zone, vehicles that do not meet the emission standards for the zone are subject to a daily fee.

While most vehicles are compliant with the emissions standards, older and more polluting cars, taxis and vans need to pay the £8 fine, in addition to coaches, buses and HGVs who will need to pay £50 per day.

A spokesperson for the Council explained that the CAZ was introduced to reduce the levels of nitrogen dioxide air pollution in the city centre.

The percentage of the most polluting vehicles entering the zone has reduced from 15.2 per cent in June 2021 to 4.9 per cent in January 2024, the Council detailed.

In the event that a penalty is received, opportunities for challenge are set out at each stage of the process so that anyone issued with a penalty charge notice understands how they can pay or challenge it.

The spokesperson added: “Since the start of the enforcement of the Clean Air Zone in 2021, around six per cent of the penalty charge notices issued have been written off.

“This figure represents a combination of cases that have been challenged or appealed and the reasons of mitigation accepted or discretion exercised, as per the Council’s discretion policy and in line with the statutory enforcement process.”

All revenue generated by CAZ is reinvested back into projects that promote greener travel and cleaner air across Birmingham and the surrounding area.

Over 300 road signs are in place to alert drivers about the emissions-based charging zone, including the boundary and how to pay.

Cars which meet certain emissions requirements escape the charges. These include diesel vehicles which are Euro 6 standard or better, petrol cars with a standard of Euro 4 standard or higher, hybrid and full electric vehicles.

Birmingham City Council, which went bankrupt in 2023, introduced the Clean Air Zone in 2021, with the scheme in place to limit the amount of pollution within the city and fine drivers as a deterrent measure.