A charging clean air zone (CAZ) for central Bath has been given the final seal of approval by Bath & North East Somerset Council and will launch on 4 November.
Bath & North East Somerset Council cabinet members approved the final business case for the charging Clean Air Zone on Thursday (16 January).
The CAZ will operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year and will see charges of £100 per day for higher emission buses, coaches and HGVs; and £9 per day for higher emission taxis, private hire vehicles, minibuses, LGVs and vans (including private vans, campervans and pick-ups) to drive in the zone. Charges will not apply to private cars and motorbikes, regardless of their emissions.
Additionally, traffic lights will be introduced at Queen Square to slow the flows of traffic and further reduce pollution in this area.
The final business case will now be submitted to the government’s Joint Air Quality Unit for approval in February. This includes a request for a further £4.1m to install the scheme at a total cost of £10m after £5.95m was advanced to the council for its design and development), and a significant bid for £14.2m of capital to fund the desired support and mitigations. It also outlines how any revenue from the scheme, over and above its operating cost, would be reinvested in initiatives that encourage more sustainable transport and travel in the area.
Councillor Sarah Warren, Cabinet member for Climate Emergency and Neighbourhood Services, said “The aim of the charging zone is to urgently reduce high levels of NO2 pollution at several hotspots in the city, and create a cleaner, healthier environment for everyone who lives and works here. It’s particularly good news for asthma sufferers as exposure to high levels of NO2 can trigger attacks.
“We’ll see air quality improvements by 2021 at the latest, and the vehicle fleet improvements and changing habits that we expect to see as a result of the zone will mark a significant step in our journey towards tackling the climate emergency across the area.”
The council is now asking commercial vehicle owners – including owners of private pick-ups, vans and campervans - to check whether or not their vehicle is compliant by referring to the vehicle’s euro standard in their V5 log book, or by checking directly with the vehicle’s manufacturer. Charges will only apply to pre-euro 6 diesel vehicles (five years or older) and pre euro 4 petrol vehicles (14 years or older).
Limited exemptions and concessions have been approved to support drivers of some non-compliant vehicles (e.g. higher emission taxis/vans/minibuses) delivering important services, or with very hard-to-replace vehicles. These include organisations that provide community-based education, health or social care services, the emergency services and blue badge holders. Those who think they might be eligible for concessions and exemptions are being asked to check the council’s website at www.bathnes.gov.uk/BathCAZ and will be asked to register their vehicles with the council in the spring.
Interest free loans and/or grants – funded by central government – will soon be available to help local businesses and individuals that regularly travel in the zone to upgrade non-compliant vehicles. Over the next few months, the council will be contacting all registered businesses in the area about this support, however those affected by charges are being asked to go online to register their interest as soon as possible. More information is available at www.bathnes.gov.uk/CAZsupport
Councillor Dine Romero, council leader, said: “Now that the details of the zone are finalised, our focus will be on helping local businesses regularly entering the zone to upgrade non-compliant vehicles. We’ve received hundreds of enquiries about financial support already, and will be finalising the scope of this support next month when the funds will be agreed by government. If you’re interested, it’s important to let us know and we’ll contact you as soon as details are confirmed.”
Work to install the zone – including cabling, cameras and signage – will now start in earnest with the aim of launching the zone on 4 November. The scheduled works will be listed at www.bathnes.gov.uk/CAZupdate.
Regular events will also continue to be held where members of the public can drop in to address any questions they might have. The dates of the events will be published on the council’s website www.bathnes.gov.uk/CAZevents.