After 100 days of operation, Bath & North East Somerset Council has revealed that the number of polluting, chargeable vehicles seen driving in Bath’s Clean Air Zone is gradually falling, as vehicles are replaced with cleaner, compliant ones not subject to charges.
Bath’s Clean Air Zone was launched on to urgently tackle harmful levels of air pollution caused mostly by polluting taxis, vans, buses and larger commercial vehicles regularly driving in the city.
The zone works by levying a day charge on anyone driving a higher emission vehicle in the zone, with the worst polluting vans, private hire vehicles and taxis being charged £9 a day to enter the city's clean air zone.
Drivers of non-compliant buses, coaches and HGVs will face a £100 daily charge.
The aim is to take the city’s most polluting vehicles off the roads more quickly than would otherwise naturally happen - and there is an early sign that this is working.
30,000 to 40,000 unique vehicles enter Bath’s CAZ each day, numbers that have increased week on week since lockdown restrictions have eased.
Around 4 per cent of these vehicles are chargeable, non-compliant vehicles.
But while the total number of vehicles entering the zone has risen, the proportion of chargeable vehicles has fallen from around 5 per cent of total vehicles seen.
Sarah Warren, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Climate and Sustainable Travel, said “The fall in the number of non-compliant vehicles seen in the zone reflects the success of the council’s financial assistance scheme, and a big effort among businesses nationally to respond to the introduction of Bath’s, Birmingham’s and soon Bristol and Portsmouth’s Clean Air Zones by upgrading vehicles and reorganizing fleets.
“While we won’t know the impact on air quality until the first three months’ of data is released to the public in the autumn, the fact that compliance is improving means we’re moving in the right direction.”
Council bosses are “open-minded” about expanding Bath’s Clean Air Zone
Council bosses have said they are “open-minded” about expanding the CAZ to tackle issues created by it.
After becoming the first outside of London when it launched in March residents have complained it has displaced traffic and created new rat runs.
Councillor Shelley Bromley said a lot of noncompliant vans had started using Weston as the main route from the M4 and asked if the boundary was likely to be reviewed.
Zone Manager Cath Brown told the Climate Emergency Scrutiny Panel meeting on Monday 21 June: “We need to see where we are in a year. Changing the boundary is quite involved.
“We would need to have a public consultation and do further modelling and assessment.
“It isn’t something that can be done quickly. We have to think of the economic and social impacts of changing the boundary including more people in the clean air zone.
“However, we’re open minded to it.
More than 54,000 charges have been paid so far and some 28,000 fines have been issued.