05 August 2022

Around the World with Yunex Traffic: UK

Clean air for Birmingham with our Clean Air Zones

Air pollution has a big impact on public health, the environment and economy, with studies suggesting that poorer areas of a city bear a disproportionate share of poorer air quality.

In 2015, the UK government through the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, published a policy paper titled “Air Quality in the UK: Plan to reduce nitrogen dioxide emissions”. This set out a plan to implement Clean Air Zones (CAZ) in five major UK cities: Birmingham, Leeds, Southampton, Nottingham, and Derby. This plan was further revised in 2017, setting out the UK’s approach to meeting the statutory limits for nitrogen dioxide and included over £2.7 billion for investment in both air quality and cleaner transport.

Research demonstrated that in Birmingham alone, air pollution causes up to 900 early deaths each year. This, along with the Air Quality plan, led Birmingham Council to plan, build and operate a Type D CAZ which went live in June 2021. This CAZ category covers, buses, coaches, taxis, private hire vehicles, heavy good vehicles, vans, minibuses, cars, and motorcycles. The 7.66km zone is situated within the city centre inside the A4540 Middleway (not inclusive of the Middleway), and operates 24/7, 365 days a year. By charging drivers of polluting vehicles a daily fee to enter the zone, the CAZ aims to promote cleaner travel choices such as walking, cycling, or using public transport and ultimately encourages vehicle owners to upgrade or replace their vehicles with newer, cleaner models.

Designed and installed by Yunex Traffic, the Clean Air Zone uses 67 Sicore II Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) cameras located at junctions and entry points within the city. 300 signs around the city advise road users of the CAZ and ensure driver are fully informed and in a position to consider and adapt their travel choices accordingly.

Results from our Clean Air Zones already in operation have shown the impact that these positive interventions can have with significant and immediate improvements in air quality.

Statistics from the Clean Air Zone in Birmingham already show very promising results. Within a year, the number of the most polluting vehicles decreased by almost half, from 18.7% to 9.2% of total vehicles in the area. This contributed to the overall reduction of nitrogen dioxide by 13% in the first months of the scheme being live and charging. Revenues made from the CAZ scheme are reinvested into Birmingham, giving a local and economic boost, include the upgrade of the University Rail Station, expansion of the Car Free School Streets programme, as well as provision of bikes to people across the city.

Our mission and purpose are to make mobility safer, more efficient, and more sustainable and by doing so, we can make cities more liveable, improve safety for all road users and better care for our planet. Through this project, we are proudly achieving these purposes by discouraging polluting vehicles from entering the city centre, encouraging vehicle owners to switch to a more environmentally friendly mode of transport, improving the quality of life of those who live in Birmingham, and improving the safety of those travelling in Birmingham, especially with the revenue raised from the CAZ being put towards city centre’s pedestrianisation and improving cycle lanes.