The city of Bath is considering the introduction of a congestion charge-style clean air zone to combat air pollution in the city.
Although the measure is not yet confirmed, Bath and North East Somerset Council is looking into the possibility as it strives to meet a government requirement to reduce the amount of nitrogen oxide in the air.
According to the Bath and North East Somerset Council, 90 percent of all Bath’s nitrogen oxide emissions come from road traffic.
As a result, the council has laid out its proposals for tackling the issue, with a congestion charging scheme at the centre of the plans.
Although the scope and cost of the Clean Air Zone is not confirmed, the council says it is looking at three options, which could see all ‘higher emission’ cars charged for driving through the city centre.
The charge could also affect buses, trucks and vans.
Councillor Bob Goodman said: ‘We have to address these nitrogen oxide levels and we have do to that in the shortest possible time.
‘We want to strike a balance with a package that can deliver the most benefit to local people in terms of improved air quality, with the least effect on residents and the economy within the deadline to reduce nitrogen oxides.
‘But we cannot do this alone. We are now starting a series of events where we want to continue working with residents, businesses and other organisations to develop a package of measures that is in the best interests of the city. It is important that people embrace this and help achieve sustainable improvements for future generations.’
However, the Freight Transport Association (FTA), which represents freight vehicle operators, has criticised the idea, saying it will have ‘a significant impact’ on the costs of local businesses.
The FTA’s head of UK policy, Christopher Snelling, commented: ‘When the proposed zone comes into effect in 2020, many logistics operators – especially small and medium sized firms – will still have non-compliant vehicles and so will face charges of around £100 per day to get through Bath.
‘The effects will be worse if vans are included, which is one of the options. There will only be four years’ worth of compliant vans in the fleet, so any small business that relies on second-hand vehicles in operate in or through Bath maybe priced out of business.’
‘The FTA is offering its experience and expertise to work with the local authority, to help them develop and introduce its plan in a timely and appropriate manner, so that they can achieve their aims of reducing nitrogen oxides whilst supporting businesses and the economy.’