Clean Air Zone begins operation in Birmingham, UK


Birmingham City Council has begun to enforce its new Clean Air Zone (CAZ) scheme, which was designed and installed by Siemens Mobility. The company’s Sicore II automatic license plate recognition (ALPR) camera will play an essential role in the solution.

The scheme covers the area within Birmingham’s A4540 Middleway (but not the Middleway itself). It has been designed to encourage the drivers of the most polluting vehicles to upgrade or replace their vehicle, with 67 monitoring and enforcement cameras installed across the city.

An initial two-week ‘soft launch’ earler this month provided drivers with time to prepare for the scheme, review the support available and consider alternatives to driving through the zone. Walking, cycling or using public transport have been encouraged, where possible, especially for shorter journeys.

“Although the air quality in our towns and cities improved during periods of lockdown, once restrictions were eased, we saw a steady increase in the number of vehicles on our roads and a reduction in air quality levels,” says Wilke Reints, managing director, Intelligent Traffic Systems for Siemens Mobility. “As a result, local authorities, such as Birmingham, have forged ahead with Clean Air Zone plans to drive improvements in air quality and support environmental and health benefits.”

“The launch of payments for the Government-mandated Clean Air Zone is the latest step on our journey to create a clean air city,” says Councillor Waseem Zaffar MBE, Cabinet Member for Transport and Environment. “The Clean Air Zone will help us to address the single biggest environmental risk to public health and I have been clear from the beginning of the scheme that we wanted to make its introduction fair and reasonable. This marks the start of important change.”

Siemens Mobility’s ALPR cameras now identify and register every vehicle that enters the Birmingham CAZ 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. It is anticipated that the system will capture details of around 200,000 vehicles per day, a small percentage of which are expected to be contraventions.

Proven in applications worldwide, more than 1,000 Siemens Mobility ALPR cameras are installed and enforcing schemes in the UK alone. The Sicore II cameras facilitate three-lane coverage with a single camera. They provide excellent image quality and licence plate read accuracy, enabling effective enforcement for residential, city, rural and motorway environments.

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Lauren is a regular contributor to Traffic Technology International (TTi) and a freelance technical journalist. Over the past 15 years, she has worked on a wide variety of B2B publications and websites, including a stint as deputy editor of Traffic Technology International from 2014-2016. She has a degree in English from the University of Exeter. Lauren is mum to two busy little girls. She is always in demand!