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Major Updates

Postcards are going out to all homes and businesses in Bath & North East Somerset highlighting final plans for a clean air zone (CAZ) in Bath.

The class C zone will charge all higher emission vehicles, except private cars and motorbikes, to drive in Bath’s city centre by the end of 2020.

The council is inviting everyone who lives and works in the area to review the final details of the CAZ, which will charge higher emission buses, coaches and HGVs £100 a day; and vans, taxis, private hire vehicles and minibuses £9 a day to drive in the city centre. This is before final plans for the zone are agreed with the government in December.

The consultation, which runs from 23 September to 20 October 2019, highlights further extensions to the zone’s boundary and proposals to restrict the flow of traffic into Queen Square – a measure that enables private cars to be exempt from charges.

Residents will also be able to see detailed maps of the zone, including the placement of cameras and signage, and those affected by charges will be able to find out more about the financial and practical support available.

In addition, the council is publishing the draft charging order, which will form the legal basis for enforcing the clean air zone when it’s launched.

Councillor Sarah Warren, cabinet member for Climate Emergency and Neighbourhood Services, said: “Last year the council heard strong public views on how plans to charge private cars in a class D zone might impact lower income households and smaller businesses.

“The council listened and has worked very hard on a scheme that exempts private cars from charges but which is also capable of reducing harmful levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) in the city to within legal limits in the shortest possible time. It means temporary traffic lights at Queen Square to reduce traffic flow into remaining NO2 hotspots, but the lights will be removed once compliance is achieved.’

“We want to bring everyone up to speed on how this zone will work, what vehicles will be charged, and what support is available. We’re therefore urging anyone interested to find out more online, come to an event, or pick up information from your local library.”

Weekly events are being held across the city where staff will be on hand to answer any questions – particularly on the financial and practical support on offer.

Councillor Joanna Wright, cabinet member for Transport Services, said: “We don’t want people to pay to drive polluting vehicles in the zone, but we understand that not every business or tradesperson has the means to buy new commercial vehicles. That’s why we’ve secured significant funds from central government to help local business and individuals upgrade their non-compliant vehicles with interest-free finance or grants.

“We’ve also secured funds for local bus companies to retrofit older buses, and to hire travel advisors to help businesses in particular to access support and plan for more sustainable transport and deliveries.”

Councillor Sarah Warren stressed that the clean air zone is just the start of plans to improve the environment and tackle climate emergency, adding:

“Our ambition is to turn Bath into an exemplar of sustainable transport and travel in a heritage setting, by providing better facilities for walking, cycling and public transport. This will allow us to tackle carbon emissions and congestion, as well as air pollution across the whole of Bath & North East Somerset.”

Residents and local businesses are urged to attend an event if they have questions or concerns. The consultation material, including an updated website, leaflet and questionnaire, will be available to the public from Monday 23 September. The consultation closes on 20 October.

All comments will be given due consideration before the final plan is submitted for approval by central government in December 2019. A class c clean air zone is expected to be in place by the end of 2020.

Press release by Bath & North East Somerset Council.

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