A new Birmingham pollution tax must be extended to across the city to stop 900 premature deaths a year, according to Friends of the Earth campaigners.
The group will hand a petition to Birmingham City Council demanding swift action to clean up Birmingham’s air quality.
The council is making plans for a city centre Clean Air Zone, with charges to be levied on heavy-polluting commercial vehicles such as diesel lorries, vans and buses.
There are also rumoured to be disputes among Labour council bosses behind the scenes on whether it should be extended to some private diesel cars – but nervous city leaders have postponed a decision until after the May local election.
Now Friends of the Earth is calling for the council to go further – by looking to introduce a charge across the whole city, not just the centre and to include private cars.
Poppy Buckingham, Birmingham Friends of the Earth air pollution campaigner said: “Birmingham’s poor air quality needs to be taken seriously and we need the best possible plan in place to ensure that the health of everyone who live, work and travel to Birmingham is protected.
“A wide-area Clean Air Zone must include all vehicle types including cars as diesel cars are the biggest single contributor to local road traffic which is the key problem for illegal levels of Nitrogen Dioxide air pollution.
“Plans must also include measures to support the Clean Air Zone such as; improving the walking and cycling infrastructure and improving public transport. Without making alternative travel easier, it will be harder for people to use other forms of transport.
“The Clean Air Zone must be in place as soon as possible before the government’s deadline of the end of 2019, and we need to see much stronger commitments from national Government to help Birmingham and other local authorities deliver cleaner air for all.”
Should Birmingham have a clean air zone
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Why Birmingham is tackling pollution
The EU and Government has ordered Birmingham, along with many other UK cities, to get its lethal levels of nitrogen dioxide down to legal safe levels as soon as possible. Failure to reduce pollution could lead to a massive fine for the city.
Traffic is the main cause of this heavy pollution.
A clean air zone has to be introduced by 2020 and automatic number plate recognition cameras have already been installed .
Transport bosses are extending the tram lines, looking to extend rail lines creating cycle super highways, investing in electric charging points and fitting pollution busting devices on buses to lower emissions .
The council was set to publish detailed plans for its clean air zone, including which vehicles would be taxed and how much, last month but a report was pulled and the decision deferred until after the May election. A plan must be submitted to Government in September.
It is believed the ruling Labour group are divided over the issue.
The opposition Conservatives are vehemently opposed to any pollution or congestion charge on private cars, while the Lib Dems are more open to the idea.