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