Bath clean air zone - cars could be exempted
Recommendations to exempt cars from being charged to drive in the proposed clean air zone in Bath are being made to Bath and North East Somerset councillors.
The cabinet meeting on March 5th will consider two options for reducing high levels of air pollution in the city, which the Government says must happen 'in the shortest possible time' and by 2021 at the latest.
The report says the Class D option - which would have charged all higher emission vehicles, including cars, to drive in the city centre and which was subject to consultation last year - would achieve compliance by central government's deadlines.
However, following a request by cabinet in December after a record number of responses to the consultation, further technical work has continued. As a result, a Class C option, which would not see cars being charged and would also meet government compliance deadlines, has now been identified.
A Class C option would involve reducing the flow of traffic into Gay Street, which would otherwise exceed the legally permitted NO2 threshold. To address this, the recommended Class C option includes traffic management measures at Queen Square, with new traffic lights at the junctions with the A367 Chapel Row/ Princes Street and at Queen Square Place. The intention would be to remove the traffic management scheme once compliance is achieved and as vehicle emissions improve.
Charges for higher emission vehicles to drive in the zone remain consistent with the original proposal: £100 for buses, coaches and HGVs and £9 for LGVs/vans, private hire vehicles and taxis.
The council also remains committed to securing central government funding to speed up the move to cleaner, more sustainable transport. For example, the council is asking the government for funds to support grants of £2,000 to help households upgrade pre-Euro 4 cars (older than approx. 2006). Other measures identified in the report include extended opening hours at the park & ride sites, anti-idling and weight-restriction enforcement, support for revisions to residents' parking zones and better walking and cycling facilities.
Depending on the decision made by cabinet, more detailed information on the scheme including bids for funding will be sent to central government. After receiving approvals and funding needed, the council would then begin the formal processes for implementing the scheme including any required consultation, with the aim of the scheme starting in December 2020.
The cabinet will meet at 10am on Tuesday March 5 at the Guildhall in Bath to make its decision.