Birmingham & Black Country

Birmingham Clean Air Zone delay over checker service problems

Birmingham ring road
Image caption Birmingham's Clean Air Zone had already been postponed once due to government delays with its vehicle checking software

Birmingham's Clean Air Zone (CAZ) is set to be delayed because an online government vehicle checking service has been giving "inaccurate" results.

Problems with the website, which allows drivers to check vehicle compliance, has caused delays by at least a month.

Birmingham City Council said once resolved there will be six months before the CAZ, originally earmarked for introduction in July, is launched.

Transport Minister Grant Shapps said officials were working on the problems.

Birmingham's CAZ is designed to crack down on vehicles deemed high polluters in the city centre.

The checker went live on the Department for Transport's (DfT) website earlier, asking drivers to enter their registration number to see how they will be affected.

But the RAC said the system would clear some vehicles for use in London, but not in Birmingham, despite both cities having the same requirements.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The RAC had said the checker was showing vehicles as non-compliant for Birmingham, when they would meet the same requirements in London

Mr Shapps said the checking service was "not up to scratch" and had asked for "urgent work" on it.

Birmingham City Council leader Ian Ward said it was important people had time to check whether their vehicle complies before the CAZ is introduced.

He said he hoped the site would be ready by the end of the month, with the zone to be implemented six months from then, about the end of August.

Image copyright Birmingham City Council
Image caption The chargeable area is within the A4540 ring road, but not the road itself

The chargeable area is within the A4540 ring road, but not the road itself.

High-polluting cars are set to be charged £8, while buses and HGV will attract a £50 fee.

Birmingham was among five cities the government called on to establish a CAZ along with Leeds, Southampton, Nottingham and Derby.

Leeds's plan is to charge taxis, buses, coaches and HGVs for using the city centre, but not private cars.

In Southampton, plans to charge vehicles were dropped in January, while Nottingham ruled-out a CAZ and a final plan has not been created for Derby.

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