Birmingham's Ulez in chaos as nearly 70,000 fines overturned

Birmingham’s version of Ulez is in chaos: Drivers get nearly 70,000 clean air zone fines overturned in road scheme that will net council £50million profit

  • Birmingham’s Clean Air Zone has 50k fines successfully challenged up to 2022
  • Council bosses have given up chasing around 20,000 more for not paying fee 

Birmingham’s own version of the Ulez is in chaos after it emerged that nearly 70,000 fines have been written off by the city council.

Nearly 50,000 Clean Air Zone (CAZ) fines have been successfully challenged by drivers since the launch of Birmingham’s controversial scheme which will net the council a whopping £50million profit by the end of this year.

The city council has backed down and overturned a huge 48,256 penalty charge notices after motorists refused to pay because they believed them to be unfair – the council have given up on chasing around another 20,000.

The number of fines overturned is only until the end of last year –  meaning the exact total is likely even higher. In addition, fines which have only recently been appealed will still be being processed.

Almost 70,000 fines in total have been written off by council bosses, including those which were successfully challenged. The huge number of penalties cancelled by the authority once again raises questions about the running of the CAZ.

Nearly 50,000 Clean Air Zone (CAZ) fines have been successfully challenged by drivers since the launch of Birmingham’s controversial scheme. Pictured: Signs for Birmingham’s Clean Air Zone at Belgrave Interchange

It means around 2,700 penalty charge notices (PCNs) have been cancelled every month on average since the launch of the CAZ in June 2021 – with more likely still being processed from the end of 2022.

READ MORE: Sadiq Khan’s plans for London cars crackdown could be blocked by a legal challenge after it was revealed officials ordered hundreds of enforcement cameras before public voted against ULEZ


Around six per cent of all PCNS – more than one in 20 – have been scrapped by Birmingham City Council since the launch of the CAZ.

They gave up chasing around another 20,000 fines which were never paid because of the resources and time that would be needed to collect all the cash owed.

Birmingham City Council said: ‘In the 18-month period, since the start of the enforcement of the Clean Air Zone in 2021, there have been 69,114 penalty charge notices written off so far which is around 6% of the total issued.

‘This represents a combination of cases that have been challenged/appealed and the reasons of mitigation accepted/discretion exercised, as per the council’s discretion policy, and cases where the council has been unable to collect payment or trace the registered keeper.’

It added: ‘There have been 48,256 penalty charge notices that have been rescinded so far where the reasons of mitigation have been accepted/discretion exercised, that are included in the total.’

Around 50,000 motorists are still being fined every month for misusing the CAZ, as people continue to be caught out in huge numbers as drivers either ignore the CAZ or don’t understand how it works or where it operates.

Despite criticism, the city council, which is expected to make a £50million profit from the zone by the end of 2023, insists it is having the desired impact by cutting emissions around the city centre.

Bosses have also had difficulties enforcing fines, with thousands simply refusing to pay. Only around 40 per cent of penalties are paid within a month.

Cars which do not meet emissions standards have to pay £8 a day to drive in the CAZ – to deter people from driving in the city.

Drivers who fail to pay the fee are hit with fines of £120, cut to £60 if paid within 14 days.

A Birmingham City Council spokesman said: ‘The purpose of the Clean Air Zone is to improve air quality in the city centre. Since its introduction it has helped reduce the number of the most polluting vehicles that enter the zone every day. This is helping to improve air quality.’

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