Motorists could soon be faced with a bill for £9 if they want to drive through the middle of Bath in a diesel vehicle built before 2015 if the council’s plans for a Clean Air Zone (CAZ) go ahead.
The proposed charge will apply to all diesels that do not meet the Euro 6 emissions standard brought in in 2015 and petrol vehicles that do not meet the Euro 4 emissions standard that arrived in 2006.
Even buses and taxis will have to pay to enter the zone, with charges of £100 for the most polluting coaches and HGVs.
If the scheme passes public consultation, it will be implemented in 2020 and would apply 24 hours a day for 365 days a year.
Bath and North East Somerset Council proposed the CAZ last year in a bid to tackle the historic city’s air pollution issues, but the authority has only just revealed the charges and launched the public consultation, which closes on November 26.
Once the council has heard the public opinions on the matter, it will submit its final proposal to the government in December.
According to the council’s website, the zone would “encourage a shift to cleaner vehicles or alternative transport” and “rapidly reduce” the levels of harmful nitrogen oxide in the city centre “to within EU and National legal limits” at some point in 2021.
However, the plan has already drawn criticism from the haulage industry, with the Road Haulage Association (RHA) criticising the council for incorporating a stretch of the A36 – a key arterial route in the area – in the CAZ.
Under the proposals, any haulage company using a pre-Euro 6 vehicle would have to pay £100 for using the A36. This, the organisation claims, will push trucks onto local roads less suited to HGVs.
RHA chief executive Richard Burnett said the CAZ would be a huge problem for haulage companies.
“This will be a disaster for hauliers operating in the region,” he said. “Not only is the council targeting firms delivering in Bath but they’re punishing companies who use the A36 to move goods elsewhere too.
“It’s clear that the local authority has no understanding about how the supply chain works. You can’t just make it prohibitive for lorries to use a major route and hope there won’t be consequences.”
A spokesperson for Bath and North East Somerset Council said: "We’ve met local representatives from the Road Haulage Association several times to talk about this proposal and to also find out how it is working to support its members move to low-emission vehicles. It is important to remember that no decision has been made yet, and the council hopes the RHA will take part in the consultation, but what we do know is that a high level of pollution in Bath is caused by vehicle emissions and this is harming the health of people living and working in the city. "