Bath & North East Somertset Council

How we reached this decision

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Background on Bath's CAZ

In 2017, the government told Bath & North East Somerset Council to reduce NO2 pollution in the city to below legal thresholds in ‘the shortest possible time’ and by 2021 at the latest. If the council fails to comply with this directive, it will face potential fines or legal action.

See letter of legal direction from Defra.

Our in-depth technical work (lasting over 18 months) showed that a charging clean air zone – a geographical area where a fee is levied to deter drivers of higher emission vehicles – is the only measure that will ensure compliance in the time frame.

Initial options

In spring 2018, we asked the public for feedback on our strategic outline business case which included the following charging zone options (as outlined in the government’s Clean Air Zone Framework):

CAZ class B: Charges for higher emission buses, coaches, taxis, private hire vehicles and HGVs

CAZ class C: As per B including charges for higher emission vans and minibuses

CAZ class D: As per C including charges for higher emission private cars

For more background information, please refer to:

Further technical modelling in the summer of 2018 revealed that a class B CAZ would not achieve compliance, and a class C CAZ would have left two NO2 hot spots in the centre of Bath exceeding legal thresholds.

A class D CAZ was therefore seen as our best course of action to urgently reduce risks to health and to meet the government’s directive.

Public feedback

In autumn 2018, the proposal for a class D CAZ was the subject of an extensive public consultation receiving over 8,400 responses.

See summary of proposal (.pdf 565kb) for this consultation.

There was a strong feeling that charging private cars would have a disproportionate impact on the economy and lower income households, and many of you asked us to look again at whether it was possible to exempt cars while meeting the air quality targets set for us.

We listened, and the council’s cabinet agreed to delay its decision to allow for proper consideration of people’s feedback and for additional technical work.

In March 2019, the project team presented cabinet with two options:

  • The original class D CAZ and
  • A class C CAZ with a proposal to temporarily reduce traffic flow through Queen Square and Gay Street, enabling private cars to be exempt from charges.

The cabinet approved the class C CAZ plus traffic management at Queen Square.

Public feedback during the consultation also helped to shape amendments to the zone boundary and to prioritise measures that would support those affected by the scheme.

You’re welcome to address any questions you might have about how we reached this decision to a team member.

For more background and technical information on this decision, please refer to:

Further amends

In early September 2019, councillors were asked to consider and approve the costs of implementing the scheme, further revisions to the boundary, the outcomes of a peer review, and the appointment of a financial partner to administrate a financial package to help those affected by charges to upgrade to compliant vehicles.

These proposals were approved.

For more information, please refer to:

Latest updates

In October 2019, we consulted the public on the final details of the scheme along with a draft charging order. The order forms the basis for enforcing the zone and includes details on how it will operate, including the agreed charges, charging policies and exemptions.

Feedback from this consultation informed the full business case (FBC) which the cabinet has approved.

These web pages reflect the latest information on the zone as presented in the FBC and also reflect some amends made to the scheme to take account of the Covid-19 pandemic, including delaying the launch of the zone until the new year. A new date is still to be confirmed with the government.

We have made use of quiet streets during the pandemic to install much of  the zone's infrastructure, including the ANPR cameras.

For more information, please refer to: 


Who is funding and reviewing this work?

To provide reassurance that our scheme will achieve compliance with EU and national legal limits for NO2, all of our work is being independently verified by the government’s Joint Air Quality Unit (JAQU) and their team of independent experts. The work has also been carefully assessed for health, economic, financial and equality impacts.

The government is providing all of the funds to design and implement the scheme and to reduce the impact on those affected.

More information

Overview of the scheme



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