Detailed studies, to establish possible charges for different types of non-compliant vehicles driving into a proposed Clean Air Charging Zone, were announced today by Bath and North East Somerset Council.
The council has been told by the government, along with 27 other local authorities, that it must comply with NO2 limits by 2021 at the latest because Nitrogen Dioxide pollution, caused by vehicle emissions, exceeds required limits at several hotspots in the city.
Three options for a clean air charging zone have already been put forward by the council, only one of which includes charging high-polluting cars as well as buses, lorries, taxis and vans.
No decision on a preferred option, including which vehicles might be charged and how much they will be charged, can be made until extensive assessments are completed later this year.
The council needs to establish the minimum charge that will lead to the necessary reduction of higher-emission vehicles travelling in the zone to meet the targets set by the government in the shortest possible time.
To inform this work the council is undertaking a statistical survey among a panel of 1,100 people who currently drive non-compliant cars in the city asking about the impact of charges ranging from £3 to £13 should the third option, which would include charging higher-emission cars, be proposed.
The aim is to determine what impact a range of different charges have on the possible behaviour of drivers, including paying the charge, swapping to public transport, using park and rides or changing their vehicle.
Councillor Bob Goodman, (Conservative Combe Down) Cabinet Member for Development and Neighbourhoods, said: “A great deal of technical assessment is now under way and the research on what charges would effectively change the behaviour of drivers is part of that work. We want to be open and transparent about this whole process, and keep people informed of the work we’re doing.
“It is essential to stress that we have to ask people about charges for statistical purposes but this does not mean the charges quoted in the survey or even charging for cars will be in the final proposal.
“Decisions cannot be made about what vehicles will be included in the CAZ, what charges will be applied, and what exemptions may be offered until the technical and economic assessments, public health impact assessments and public engagement are complete.”
Alongside this work, the council is talking to bus operators about winning available government funds for updating fleets, or to retro-fit older buses with compliant, cleaner engines. It has also in dialogue with taxi drivers and representatives from a range of bodies such as including the Road Haulage and Freight Transport Associations. It is also encouraging business owners driving light goods vehicles (vans) to drop into events at popular trade centres over the summer.
To determine the minimum charge for non-compliant, higher emission buses, HGVs and taxis, as well as LGVs, the council will build on the work done in London and Leeds, while taking into account the different economies in each city. These are the vehicles that would be charged should a Class B or Class C CAZ be the preferred option.
The results of all this work will be used alongside the analysis of an Automated Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) survey, completed over a two-week period from 31 October to 13 November last year. This recorded more than 500,000 separate number plates identifying the number and type of higher polluting vehicles typically travelling in the city.
Councillor Goodman added: “All this data will assist in modelling which CAZ options are capable of achieving air quality targets within the timeframe which is required of us, and will help improve Bath’s air quality making the city cleaner, healthier and a more attractive place.”
The council is encouraging residents, interest groups, commuters and business owners to get involved, ask questions, and share their views on the three options for a Clean Air Charging Zone in Bath that have already been proposed.
All this work will feed into the Outline Business Case, which will outline the preferred option and proposed charges for the zone. It will be published later in the year when again people will be able to have their say.
There are a number of ways people can get involved and find out more either:
Drop into a scheduled BreATHE event, or a public surgery offering a 30-minute bookable slot with an informed Council team member
Submit comments via social media, email, letter or an online form.
Details of regular events throughout the spring and summer, and other ways to comment are available from the Council’s website www.bathnes.gov.uk/breathe.
To keep up-to-date, follow up on Facebook and Twitter with hashtag #BathBreathes2021.
Original press release by Bath & North East Somerset Council: