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.

Why do we need a charging zone?

A charging zone would quickly improve the air we breathe by deterring certain 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 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 arrive at the current proposal?

Our technical work in 2017/18 showed that a Charging Clean Air Zone was the only measure capable of reducing NO2 to within legal limits in the time available.

In Spring 2018 we shortlisted and sought public feedback on three options for a Charging CAZ, following the guidelines contained in the Government’s Clean Air Zone Framework.

 The options considered for further testing and feedback were:

  • A Class B CAZ with charges for all higher emission vehicles except for LGVs/vans and cars
  • A Class C CAZ with charges for all higher emission vehicles except cars
  • A Class D CAZ with charges for all higher emission vehicles

Further on-going technical work told us that a Class B CAZ would not achieve compliance, and that a Class C CAZ (exempting cars) would have left two NO2 hotspots exceeding 40 ug/m3 at Gay Street (north of Queen Square) and Walcot Parade.

Based on the available evidence a Class D charging Clean Air Zone was therefore seen to be the best course of action to urgently reduce risks to health and meet the Government’s legal mandate.

We prepared an Outline Business Case (OBC) for a Class D CAZ, and asked the public for their feedback during a six-week public consultation ending November 2018. Read the consultation summary.

The outcomes of the consultation, along with further technical assessment, has informed a number of revisions to the zone boundary and amendments to the original proposal, including exempting cars from charges. 

More information

For more background and technical information, please refer to the latest outline business case (Feb/March 2019) and the report to cabinet (see Home page).

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