Tackling air pollution is important because it's associated with a number of health impacts, particularly respiratory conditions, and is recognised as a contributing factor in the onset of heart disease and cancer. It particularly affects people with heart and lung conditions, children and older people.
Our routine air-quality work includes monitoring 96 sites across the whole area, preparing annual reports for Defra, and working with the public on action plans for Bath, Keynsham and Saltford. We also ensure our work informs wider Council strategies e.g. planning and transport.
Bath Breathes 2021 project
NO2 pollution in central Bath is of particular concern because of the high number of vehicle movements in a built-up area.
In Figure 1 below, you’ll see a number of hotspots along key routes where annual average levels of NO2 exceed the national limit of 40μg/m³.
We’ve recently completed a consultation on the latest Air Quality Action Plan for Bath, and agreed a range of objectives for the long term, but more needs to be done – and urgently.
In 2017, the Government issued the Council with a directive to reduce the high levels of NO2 currently being recorded at the London Road monitoring station.
To comply with this directive, we need to implement measures that will bring about improvements to air quality quickly, and by 2021 at the latest. The project should also improve air quality at other NO2 hotspots in Bath.
This is in line with the Government’s own National Air Quality Plan and objectives.
What criteria do we need to meet?
The Government has set a clear framework and timeframe for local authorities to achieve compliance by 2021 at the latest.
Because NO2 pollution is caused by vehicles, we’ll be looking at a wide range of measures capable of reducing vehicle emissions and encouraging greener modes of travel along key routes in the city, before deciding on a final package of measures in December 2018.
Importantly, the Government will only approve and fund air quality improvement measures if:
- The impact on local residents and businesses has been assessed
- Proposals demonstrate value for money
- They bring about improvements to air quality quickly, and by 2021 at the latest.
What do we need to do?
- Gather the necessary evidence and emissions data (via an Automatic Number Plate Recognition Survey) on which to base decisions
- Review a long list of ideas put forward by the public during a recent consultation on Bath’s Air Quality Action Plan to improve air quality in the city
- Assess the benefits, impact and effectiveness of these measures against the Government’s criteria and timeline
- Create a short list of the best packages of measures by March 2018
- Seek public views on the short list and fully assess the impacts on air quality, health, residents and the economy
- Select a preferred package of measures by September 2018
- Further design the scheme with input from the community
- Submit our final package of measures for approval by the Government by December 2018
- Implement the agreed package of measures so that air quality improvements in Bath are realised by 2021 at the latest.
How will the project be funded?
We’re one of 29 local authorities identified as needing extra help from the Government to achieve NO2 reduction targets.
This means that we now have access to significant Government funds and expertise not previously available to us for air quality improvements in the city.
We’ve already been awarded £100,000 to gather the evidence and data we need, and to assess the feasibility of a wide range of possible measures to improve air quality. We’ll receive further funds to work up our proposals in more detail, and to implement the final package of measures.
None of the costs of the project will fall on the Council or the local tax payer.