Polluting vehicles such as buses or lorries will now be charged £9 or £100 a day to drive into the centre of Bath.
The Clean Air Zone (CAZ) is designed to tackle Bath’s air pollution problem, which is largely caused by vehicle emissions, it is the first CAZ of its kind in England outside of London.
Daily charges will apply seven days a week, midnight to midnight, all year round for chargeable vehicles with a pre-euro 6 diesel or pre-euro 4 petrol engine.
Automatic number plate recognition cameras have been installed on all roads leading into the zone. Vehicle number plates will be checked against a DVLA database and then motorists with non-compliant, chargeable vehicles – including those from outside the UK – must declare and pay for their journey at GOV.UK or they will receive a penalty charge notice.
The council secured £9.4m worth of funding from the government in order to help residents and businesses, including coach companies and taxi drivers, to replace polluting vehicles with cleaner, compliant ones.
The council has set up a scheme to help owners upgrade their vehicles and already more than 500 businesses have applied. A further £1.58m has helped local bus operators to retrofit fleet not already compliant in the zone.
Cllr Dine Romero, leader of Bath and North East Somerset Council, said: ‘This a landmark day for the city. We’ve put up with unacceptable levels of nitrogen dioxide for too long. This is unfair on residents, particularly vulnerable older people and children. We want to reduce NO2 pollution in Bath to within legal limits by the end of 2021 at the latest, and a charging clean air zone is the only way we can achieve this.
‘We know this is difficult time for businesses, but we’ve gone ahead with the zone during the pandemic because this is a pressing public health issue. However, we are working with residents and businesses to help them replace polluting vehicles with cleaner ones and there is significant financial and practical help available.’
Andrea Lee, clean air campaigner at ClientEarth, added: ‘Across the UK, illegal and harmful levels of air pollution have been putting people in serious danger for too long. With Bath’s new Clean Air Zone, and others soon to follow, we are finally seeing a concrete step that will protect people’s health in a tangible way.
‘It’s important to remember that these schemes are put in place for a reason: to protect people’s health. Toxic air affects virtually every organ in the body. Road transport is the biggest source of illegal pollution in our cities and CAZs are proven to be the most effective way to quickly reduce this pollution.
‘Bath and other cities are stepping up to the challenge so it is essential that the UK government does everything it can to support them and help people and businesses – particularly those on low incomes and small businesses – move to cleaner forms of transport as quickly as possible.’
Photo Credit – Bath and North East Somerset Council