Bath and North East Somerset Council has announced plans to charge high-emission vehicles in the centre of Bath, as part of proposals to tackle air pollution.
The local authority has launched a consultation on three different packages of measures, which are all designed to reduce harmful nitrogen dioxide levels in the city.
All three proposals include a clean air-charging zone in the centre of Bath alongside a range of other measures to encourage greener modes of travel.
However, different types of vehicles would be charged under each of the three options.
A clean air charging zone means drivers of high-emission vehicles are charged when entering a specific geographic zone. The aim is to reduce air pollution and improve health. Revenue from the zone is used to run the scheme and any extra may be used to support greener modes of travel depending on government decisions.
A small zone is being proposed for Bath in order to achieve the greatest benefit in terms of reducing air pollution across the city with the least impact on residents and the economy.
The council is seeking views on the options and how they could best be introduced in order to maximise the air quality benefits, while minimising any effects of residents and economy, particularly on low-income families and businesses.
Suggestions include reduced cost of residents’ parking permits for low-emission vehicles; improved public transport facilities; better walking and cycling routes and making the bus lane on London Road permanent.
Details about costs, charging hours and which groups of high-emission vehicles will be affected will be modelled and considered following a series of public events being held over the coming months.
The council’s cabinet member for development and neighbourhoods, Cllr Bob Goodman, said: ‘We want to strike a balance with a package that can deliver the most benefit to local people in terms of improved air quality, with the least impact on residents and the economy within the deadline to reduce NO2.
‘We are legally bound to reduce levels of N02 in line with the government’s requirements. As such, one of the three options for a Clean Air Zone would involve charging certain types of cars to drive into the centre of Bath, whilst the other two options would only affect other types of vehicles such as HGVs, buses, coaches and taxis.
‘As these three options illustrate, it may be possible for us to achieve the required air quality improvements without the need to charge cars, however further detailed work has to be done before a final package is agreed later this year.
‘We cannot do this alone and in finalising our proposals we will need to work with residents, business and other organisations to develop a package of measures that is in the best interests of the city. If our residents, businesses and visitors embrace these changes to encourage low emission vehicles or the use of alternative ways to get into the city centre we can expect to see sustainable improvements for future generations.’
For more information, visit the council’s .
Photo by Michael Gwyther-Jones