Smart cameras and equipment to count incoming traffic are to be deployed by Bath & North East Somerset council at a range of locations including rush hour hotspots over the coming weeks.
The temporary measures, installation of Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) cameras and automated traffic count (ATC) equipment, are aimed at building up a better understanding of the sort of vehicles that journey into and out of Bath as proposals are developed to improve air quality along the A4 London to Bath road.
The council has been working with the governmentâ€™s Joint Air Quality Unit (JAQU) on the nature and extent of the surveys which will run for two weeks from this week with additional traffic counts being carried out to supplement the ANPR data.
Bath was identified within the governmentâ€™s NO2 plan as an area where nitrogen dioxide levels are projected to exceed national air quality objectives beyond 2021. Work being undertaken by the council will explore measures to will improve air quality.
The council was among the first to have been handed funding from the governmentâ€™s Â£255 million Air Quality Implementation Fund to assess options to tackle air pollution (see airqualitynews.com story).
The council is preparing an initial action plan which will be finalised by March 2018 to be followed by a final draft before the end of next year. This strategy will build upon the wider Bath Air Quality Action Plan which is currently being consulted on.
Councillor Bob Goodman, the councilâ€™s cabinet member for development and neighbourhoods, said: â€œThis technology is being deployed only to gather information for the basis of our Air Quality Action Plan to help us improve air quality. It will not be used for any other purposes.
â€œWe know that there is increasing evidence that air quality has an important effect on public health, the economy and the environment and tackling vehicle emissions and improving air quality is one of the most urgent challenges in towns and cities across the UK.â€
The council currently has three Air Quality Management Areas in Bath, Keynsham and Saltford.Â Recommendations have been put forward and specific initiatives have been implemented to reduce the levels of nitrogen dioxide in these areas, the authority says.
Within Bath & North East Somerset an area around the A4 London Road has been identified as the area in need of action, and the council has said it will consider a â€œwide range of measuresâ€ in order to reduce emissions within the zone.