Birmingham could ban private cars from city centre in air pollution drive

Birmingham could ban private cars from driving across the city centre under new plans drawn up by the council in a move to cut air pollution levels.

A draft transport plan, published by Birmingham City Council, sets out that private vehicles would not be able to drive straight through the centre to reach other areas.

Instead, they will be re-routed to a ring road, as the council looks at “transforming” the area with a network of pedestrian streets and infrastructure for cyclists.

The Labour-run council says the changes, which they hope to implement over the next decade, are designed to support the city’s commitment to being carbon neutral by 2030.

But the transport plan has been criticised by Conservative councillors in the authority, who claim it will “bring the city to a standstill”.

Under the draft plans, which are subject to cabinet approval on January 21, city centre access for lorries and service vehicles could be put under daytime restrictions.

Road transport currently accounts for a third of CO2 emissions in Birmingham, according to the report, published on Monday.

It also includes plans for reduced parking, the introduction of 20mph speed limits on residential roads and the city’s tunnels being used for public transport only.

In response to the plan, Councillor Robert Alden, leader of the Conservative Group on Birmingham City Council, said it will worsen air quality and congestion in the city.

In a statement, he said: “Their plans to close the tunnels will bring the city to a standstill, destroying jobs and pushing more congestion and pollution to the residential areas on the edge of the ring road.”

He added: “Their ‘go anywhere’ transport plan is likely to become a ‘go nowhere’ transport plan.”

Introducing the report, Councillor Waseem Zaffar said: “As a city, we have been over-reliant on private cars for too long and with more people choosing to live and work in Birmingham, we need to find innovative new ways to keep the city moving in an efficient but sustainable way.

“Birmingham has already started to redress the balance and build a future in which the car will no longer be king.”

If the plans are approved by the council’s cabinet, the draft plan will go to public consultation from January 28 before a final version is adopted.

It comes as the city of York approved plans to ban private car journeys from its centre within three years, as it attempts to become the country’s first car-free city.

Bristol previously announced plans to become the first UK city to ban diesel cars by next year.