Pol­lut­ing cars and lor­ries ‘face ban’ on ma­jor routes Con­gested city roads high­lighted as Gove re­veals new £225m fund

Birmingham Post - - NEWS - Neil Elkes Lo­cal Govern­ment Cor­re­spon­dent

THREE of Birm­ing­ham’s most heav­ily con­gested com­muter roads could see the most pol­lut­ing ve­hi­cles banned as the govern­ment launched a £225 mil­lion fund to tackle chronic air pol­lu­tion.

The A38 through the city, the Queensway tun­nels un­der Great Charles Street, and the A452 Ch­ester Road in the north of Birm­ing­ham ap­pear on a list of UK roads most in need of in­ter­ven­tion.

The govern­ment an­nounced it wants to ban the sale of all diesel and petrol cars and vans by 2040. It hopes that the ma­jor­ity will switch to elec­tric ve­hi­cles long be­fore that.

En­vi­ron­ment Sec­re­tary Michael Gove is set to un­veil a £225 mil­lion fund for coun­cils and trans­port au­thor­i­ties to in­sti­gate their own pol­lu­tion-bust­ing mea­sures.

But the cabi­net min­is­ter warned au­thor­i­ties he did not be­lieve it was “nec­es­sary” to bring in road charg­ing in city cen­tres.

The govern­ment has been forced to un­veil a £3 bil­lion pack­age of mea­sures to tackle air pol­lu­tion af­ter los­ing a court chal­lenge un­der which en­vi­ron­men­tal­ists suc­cess­fully ar­gued that poli­cies were cur­rently in­ad­e­quate.

Air pol­lu­tion, mostly as a re­sult of diesel ve­hi­cles, is linked to 1,500 pre- ma­ture deaths a year in the West Mid­lands due to chronic asthma, heart and lung con­di­tions.

Birm­ing­ham City Coun­cil leader John Clancy has firmly ruled out a uni­ver­sal con­ges­tion charge, although the coun­cil is mov­ing ahead with plans for a clean air zone around the city cen­tre which will see the high­est pol­lut­ing com­mer­cial ve­hi­cles charged.

West Mid­lands mayor Andy Street has promised to look at diesel car charges if the clean air zone does not prove suc­cess­ful and has called on Govern­ment to sup­port a scrap­page scheme for peo­ple to swap their diesel for elec­tric cars. Mayor Street said: “We will look in more de­tail at the op­por­tu­ni­ties the air qual­ity plan presents and work with lo­cal au­thor­i­ties in the West Mid­lands to de­cide how we should act. This will have to in­clude plans for the spe­cific routes iden­ti­fied by the Sec­re­tary of State.

“The an­nounce­ment makes it even more im­por­tant that across the West Mid­lands we con­tinue to in­vest in rail, Metro, buses and cy­cling to give a clean, re­li­able al­ter­na­tive to cars.

“How­ever, in the longer term, this chal­lenge presents our re­gion with a unique op­por­tu­nity.”

He added that cru­cially the re­gion’s mo­tor in­dus­try and uni­ver­si­ties, which are en­gaged in re­search and de­vel­op­ment of elec­tric ve­hi­cles and driver­less cars, are well placed to cap­i­talise on the shift in mo­tor­ing.

> The Queensway tun­nels through Birm­ing­ham could be tar­geted

> Mayor Andy Street

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