With the end of the consultation period in sight, the council is urging people to attend the remaining events so that they can gather facts, talk about their concerns and discuss the type of support that might help them should the zone be approved.
The proposal, which would see a Class D Charging CAZ in the city centre by the end of 2020, aims to urgently cut dangerous levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) in Bath by 2021 at the latest. This type of pollution is caused by vehicle emissions, and the council is one of 28 local authorities told by the Government to cut NO2 to within legal limits ‘in the shortest possible time’, or risk a fine.
Councillor Bob Goodman, Cabinet Member for Development and Neighbourhoods, said: “Air pollution in Bath is a long-standing problem that has to be addressed to make Bath a cleaner, greener and healthier city. While there has been a good turnout at the drop-in sessions and to complete our online questionnaire, I would urge anyone who has concerns about possible impacts on themselves or their business to come and talk to us as part of this consultation.”
Currently in Bath diesel and petrol cars emit 33% of nitrogen oxides (NOx) which is more than is contributed by LGVs/vans (16%), buses and coaches (32%) and lorries (19%).’
Research shows that around 75% of vehicles should already be compliant by 2021 and a raft of exemptions and concessions are also being proposed. This means that a substantial proportion of drivers would be able to travel in the zone without paying a charge.
Councillor Bob Goodman, added “Our challenge – should this proposal be approved – is to help the remaining 25% of drivers with non-compliant vehicles to switch to lower emission vehicles or find alternative ways to get around that they are happy with. “This involves exemptions and concessions for vulnerable groups and financial support for residents and businesses that need it most, so they can change to compliant vehicles. Should the zone go ahead we’ll provide all of the help, advice and support that people need.”
Councillor Mark Shelford, Cabinet Member for Transport and Environment, added: “We’ve found that many people attending events have come away reassured. For example, some residents have assumed that they will have to pay to drive in the proposed zone, but we’ve been able to tell them that their car is compliant and they would not have to pay.
“‘Other visitors to our events have discovered that they would be eligible for a concession as a blue badge holder, disabled driver or employee of a registered healthcare provider – giving them longer to upgrade their car before charges would apply if a Class D Charging CAZ was put in place.
“In addition, we’re now able to tell people a little more about the financial support we’ve been looking at, which aims to help residents most in need with a grant sufficient to help them upgrade from a pre-Euro 4 petrol or diesel car to a compliant car. This support is subject to a successful bid for funds from central Government that’s now under way, and it’s something we really want to do. We’re also looking at an interest free loan scheme to help businesses upgrade pre-Euro 6 commercial vehicles.
“Finally, we want to reassure people that any surplus revenue from zone charges, over and above operating costs, could only be spent on initiatives to encourage greener travel and transport in the area, which is a Government requirement of the scheme.”
No decisions have yet been made and the consultation is open until 26 November. Find out more online or by attending a drop in event and have your say by completing a consultation questionnaire at www.bathnes.gov.uk/breathe. Information is also available at your local B&NES library or One Stop Shop.
Upcoming drop-in events:
- Sat 24 November, 10am-2pm, Bath & North East Somerset Council, Brunswick Room, Guildhall, High Street, Bath, BA1 5AW