Businesses and individuals across the south west are being asked to check whether they will need to pay to drive their vehicles in Bath’s Clean Air Zone ahead of its launch on 15 March.
The introduction of Bath’s Class C Charging Clean Air Zone means that in less than two months, drivers of most pre-euro 6 diesel and pre-euro 4 petrol vehicles will have to pay to drive in the centre of the city.
Private cars and motorbikes will not have to pay to drive in the zone, but daily charges will apply to higher emission buses, coaches, HGVs and motorhomes (£100 a day); and to higher emission minibuses, taxis, private hire vehicles, LGVs and vans, including private pick-ups and campers (£9 a day). Charges apply 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Businesses and individuals can check whether they will need to pay a charge to drive in a clean air zone using GOV.UK’s vehicle checker.
This service now includes business accounts that enable users to check compliance of multiple UK-registered vehicles at once.
Bath & North East Somerset Council wants businesses to understand how charging will work. Unlike London’s congestion charge, autopay will not be available in any clean air zone, including Bath’s. This means that owners of non-compliant vehicles will need to carefully manage payments if they are not planning to upgrade or reorganize fleets.
A charging clean air zone works by drivers of non-compliant vehicles declaring their journey and paying online at GOV.UK’s ‘Drive in a clean air zone’ service within a 13-day payment window.
Payment can be made up to 6 days in advance, on the day the vehicle is driven in the zone, or in the 6 days after. No reminders are sent. It’s up to the driver or business account user to pay the daily charge within the payment window using a debit or credit card or saved bank details. Otherwise, they could receive a penalty charge notice.
Bath’s zone will be the first charging clean air zone to launch outside of London, with other cities, including Bristol and Birmingham, planning similar schemes. The intention is to urgently drive down high levels of harmful nitrogen dioxide pollution in the city, mainly caused by vehicle emissions. High levels of this type of pollution are associated with worsening lung and heart conditions, such as asthma.
While private cars and motorbikes are not charged in Bath’s zone, they may well be charged in other zones, and the council is appealing to everyone to consider the way they get around. The message is, if you can, please walk, cycle or take public transport.