Bath & North East Somertset Council


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A high level of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) in Bath, caused by vehicle emissions, is harming the health of people living and working in the city.

This type of pollution makes heart and lung conditions worse. 12,000 people in Bath and North East Somerset suffer from asthma, and exposure to high levels of NO2 can trigger attacks. Over the longer term, it contributes to reduced lung development in children and is linked to increased possibility of heart attacks and dementia.

The Government has now asked us (along with 27 other local authorities) to reduce levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) in the air in the shortest possible time, and by 2021 at the latest. It is providing all of the funds for us to do this.

The proposal

  • Our assessments have determined that the most effective way to achieve NO2 reduction targets is a Class D Clean Air Zone (CAZ)
  • This would mean charging drivers of all higher emission vehicles – including cars – to drive in the city centre by the end of 2020
  • The proposed zone would include the centre of the city, but air quality would improve across the city
  • Lower emission vehicles would not pay the charge
  • Higher emission buses, coaches and HGVs would pay £100 per day to drive in the zone
  • Higher emission cars, taxis and vans would pay £9 per day to drive in the zone
  • We’re proposing exemptions and concessions and additional supporting measures to lessen the impact of the zone, especially on vulnerable groups and businesses
  • The Government is reviewing our proposal, and the Council must reach a final decision in December 2018.

For more detail, see Charges.

Why do we need a charging zone?

A charging zone would quickly improve the air we breathe by deterring higher emission vehicles from driving in the city and encouraging a shift to cleaner alternative transport.

  • There are a number of places in Bath where NO2 exceeds the EU and national legal limit of 40 ug/m3
  • This is mainly caused by diesel and older petrol vehicles
  • On average 32% of Bath’s road traffic NO2 is contributed by buses and coaches, 26% by diesel cars, 19% by HGVs, 16% by diesel vans, and 7% by petrol cars.

A Class D charging zone is supported in Bath by Asthma UK, British Heart Foundation and the British Lung Foundation.

Read more on Bath’s air quality monitoring.

How did we reach this proposal?

We arrived at this proposal after considerable analysis and research lasting more than 12 months, drawing on local and national data sets and detailed traffic and air quality modelling.

This included looking at a wide range of options to assess what measures could reduce NO2 to within legal limits by 2021.

Earlier in the year, we engaged the public on a shortlist of three possible options, each including a charging clean air zone and a package of support:

  • Class B CAZ: Charges for higher emission buses, coaches, private hire vehicles, taxis and HGVs
  • Class C CAZ: Charges as outlined for B, including higher emission LGVs/vans
  • Class D CAZ: Charges as outlined for B and C, including higher emission cars

The feedback we received has helped to shape our proposal.

In-depth analysis indicated that CAZ Classes B and C would not sufficiently reduce NO2 in the time permitted by the Government.

Our assessment has been developed in accordance with Government guidelines and is under consideration by the Joint Air Quality Unit (JAQU).

It has been carefully assessed for health, economic and financial impacts.

More information

For more background and technical information, please refer to the Outline Business Case reports and read our Frequently Asked Questions.

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