Taxi drivers stage go-slow protest over Birmingham clean air zone

  • Union members claim they were 'steamrolled' over Clean Air Zone plans

  • More protests will be taking place over the next two weeks

  • The council say they've done the best they can for the drivers

  • VIDEO: Report by Catherine Reid, ITV News Central

Taxi drivers staged a go-slow protest in Birmingham city centre this morning.

They claim they were 'steamrolled' over plans to impose a Clean Air Zone (CAZ) on the city in 2020.

It's the first of many protests that are expected to take place over the next two weeks.

The demonstration by members of the The Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union took place between 8am and 10am.

The procession started at TK MAX, opposite Debenham's in the city centre.

Further protests are planned tomorrow, Thursday and Friday, then every day next week.

Next week, they are expected to take place between 8am and 10am and then again during the evening rush hour, but it is not known exactly when.

Cllr Barbara Dring, chair of the licensing committee, said last week the council had 'done the best we can' for the drivers.

While Chris Neville, the council's former head of licensing who has retired in recent days, had said 'there is no other way' for the authority to meet government demands to reduce pollution levels over the next two years.

  • What is the Clean Air Zone?

Plans for a Clean Air Zone in Birmingham were approved by the government in March 2019.

Under the proposals, some drivers will now have to pay £8 a day to drive in the city, whilst HGV drivers face a £50 charge.

But who will be affected and when will it come into action? Here's everything you need to know.

  • Where is the Clean Air Zone?

The Clean Air Zone, or CAZ, covers all the roads within the A4540 Middleway Ring Road, but not the Middleway itself.

The CAZ covers all the roads within the A4540 Middleway Ring Road in Birmingham. Credit: Birmingham City Council
  • When does it come into effect?

The exact start date hasn't been confirmed yet, but it's expected to come into force in January 2020. The charge will then apply 24/7, 365 days a year.

  • How much will I have to pay?

Under the proposals, cars, taxis - including Hackney Carriages and Private Hire cars - and LGVs will pay £8 a day.

HGVs, coaches and buses will pay £50 a day.

You will only pay the charge once per day and there are some exemptions (more on this below).

  • Does the charge apply to newer cars?

Diesel cars older than a EURO 6 (manufactured before 2015) and petrol cars older than EURO 4 (made before 2006) will have to pay the charge.

HGV drivers will be charged £50 a day. Credit: PA
  • What about if I live in the city centre?

There are some exemptions for people who live in the city centre or commute.

If you have lived in the city centre since before September 2018, you won't be charged for driving in the CAZ until January 2022. Birmingham City Council said they hope to be able to offer additional incentives, such as public transport tickets or money towards a replacement compliant vehicle.

If you commute into the CAZ and earn less than £30,000 a year, you won't have to pay the charge until January 2021. The Council hopes to offer similar incentives to the ones listed above.

Vehicles registered with disabled tax class will be exempt altogether and people visiting key hospitals, GP offices and care homes within the Clean Air Zone will be exempt from the charge for a year.