Detailed work to ensure Bath’s clean air zone meets its 2021 target has been outlined in a cabinet report set to go before Bath and North East Somerset councillors.
Cabinet, which meets on September 12 at the Guildhall, is being asked to approve the costs of implementing the scheme which would include the installation of cameras and signage, traffic management and mitigation measures, totalling almost £18 million to be funded by central government.
It is proposed that any surplus revenue generated from the zone, after running costs, would be reinvested into schemes to encourage more sustainable transport and travel, including more walking, cycling and public transport.
In addition councillors are being asked to approve the appointment of a financial partner to administrate finance packages to help businesses and individuals affected by charges with non-compliant vehicles to upgrade.
Subject to successful funding bids to government, the report outlines a substantial package of mitigation measures to include bus upgrades, additional electric vehicle charging points, improved park and ride services and the introduction of last mile delivery cargo bike schemes.
The cabinet report also includes details of revised boundary extensions, a public consultation to start on September 23 and an update on a recent independent review of the scheme. In addition the report seeks authorisation for anti-idling enforcement powers and weight limit restrictions to further reduce emissions and avoid rat-running.
In March the council agreed a class C charging clean air zone, which will exempt cars from paying to drive in the zone. To achieve compliance with nitrogen dioxide (NO2) limits in the shortest possible time, the council would also need to introduce temporary traffic lights at Queen Square to reduce traffic flows into NO2 hotspots. These will be removed once compliance is achieved.
Daily charges will apply for all higher emission vehicles (except private cars) to drive in the zone to urgently reduce harmful levels of NO2 pollution by 2021 at the latest.
The report says a review was carried out in the summer for reassurance about the class C zone which concludes that the scheme does have the potential to achieve compliance in the shortest possible time.
In line with the council’s commitment to keep people informed about the scheme’s development the cabinet is being asked to approve a final consultation on the details of the scheme including a draft charging order. The order forms the legal basis for enforcing the zone when it is launched at the end of 2020. The consultation will run from 23 September to 20 October.
A full business case will then go before the council’s cabinet on December 5 before being submitted for final approval by Government.
Councillor Dine Romero, leader, said: “This is detailed report which sets out where we are with the Clean Air Zone in order to achieve compliance by 2021 at the latest. Achieving compliance with air quality across Bath will result in widespread health improvements as well as playing a significant part towards changing the way people travel around our city.
“The review was undertaken to ensure there were no missed opportunities and the modelling was robust and I am reassured by the outcome of the review which says the scheme has the potential to achieve compliance. We are on track for the Full Business Case to be brought before cabinet for a decision in December.
“As we have repeatedly said private cars will not be charged and we now want to go out to the public with a final consultation to fully explain how the zone will work and what support will be available.”
Councillor Sarah Warren, cabinet member for Climate Emergency and Neighbourhood Services added: “The clean air zone is an important step towards achieving our wider ambitions for Bath and North East Somerset to address air quality and tackle the climate emergency.
“Our goal is to turn Bath into an exemplar of sustainable transport in a heritage setting, along with better walking, cycling and public transport. I am committed to using every tool at our disposal to achieve this goal, and all money raised from the zone will go towards more sustainable travel and transport for all.”