Bath and North East Somerset Council is proposing to charge drivers of higher emission vehicles, including cars, £9 per day to drive within Bath city centre.
The proposals for a Charging Clean Air Zone (CAZ) in Bath form part of a six-week consultation, launched yesterday (16 October) by the authority.
As part of the plan, which would come into effect from late 2020, drivers of higher emission, non-compliant cars, taxis and LGVs/vans would all be charged £9 when entering the proposed zone.
The proposals also include a charge of £100 per day for higher emission, non-compliant buses, coaches and HGVs.
The council said it has been told by Government, along with 27 other authorities, to take “urgent action” to reduce nitrogen dioxide levels caused by vehicle emissions in the shortest possible time and by 2021 at the latest.
There are areas of Bath where NO2 currently exceeds EU and national limits, the authority reports. The council has pointed to a number of conditions which it said can be made worse by high levels of NO2, including heart and lung conditions.
No decisions have been made but the council said it is legally bound to reach a decision by December and it is seeking people’s views on proposed charges.
The authority said it has looked at schemes that excluded cars and vans, but the best course of action to achieve compliance in the shortest possible time is a Class D CAZ – a clean air zone which extends to cars.
Revenue from the proposed zone would be used to run the scheme and any surplus would be used to support greener modes of travel, the authority says.
Commenting on the proposals, Councillor Bob Goodman, cabinet member for development and neighbourhoods, said: “Like many councils up and down the country we have to address NO2 levels which are harmful to people’s health, and we’re being told by the Government do to that in the shortest possible time.
“There is no doubt this proposal would have an impact on residents driving higher emission vehicles and businesses, and we want to strike a balance with a package that can deliver clean air as soon as possible, while supporting residents and businesses in making the transition to a cleaner, greener local economy.”
“If people want to see sustainable health improvements for future generations, we have to consider this option which would bring about a reduction in harmful emissions and along with other measures help make Bath a clean and green city.”
Councillor Mark Shelford, cabinet member for transport and environment, added: “The council has looked carefully at other options such as not charging higher emission cars, but technical analysis shows this would not be guaranteed to sufficiently reduce NO2 in the time available.”