Blue Badge holders will need to pay a fee to enter Bath's Clean Air Zone (CAZ) from next month, as the exemption period comes to an end.
Drivers with disabilities who hold Blue Badges were one of several groups able to apply for their vehicle to be exempt in the first two years of the Clean Air Zone, which came into force in 2021.
Under the Bath Clean Air Zone scheme, private cars and motorbikes are not charged but commercial vehicles which do not meet emission standards do incur a fee.
The charge is £100 a day for the most polluting lorries, coaches and buses or £9 a day for taxis, minibuses and vans.
Large parts of the city centre and adjacent areas come under the CAZ.
From March 15, Blue Badge holders, wheelchair-accessible taxis, community health, education, social care workers, community transport, and people who got exemptions under the financial assistance scheme will all now have to pay the charge for the first time.
Bath and North East Somerset Council’s cabinet member for transport Manda Rigby said: “When we went with the first CAZ outside London, we were determined to introduce it as equitably as possible, whilst hitting its air quality targets.
“We were very and repeatedly clear about all the exemptions having a two-year period from the start. Bristol had slightly over six months exempted period, Birmingham had none at all [for Blue Badge holders].
“It would be unfair on the 900+ residents who changed their vehicles with assistance from the finance scheme to help us all breathe cleaner air if we didn’t do as initially shown in the scheme and changed the rules now for the very small minority who still have non-compliant vehicles.”
Currently, there are 88 exemptions issued for Blue Badge holders, 27 of which are being actively used. 36 have not been used in the last three months and 25 have never been used.
The daily charge to enter the Clean Air Zone is £9 for taxis, minibuses, vans, pick-up trucks, and some campervans and four-by-fours; and £100 for coaches, buses, and HGVs. Private HGVs like horsebox vans and motorhomes can have the £100 reduced to £9, if registered with the council.
Motorbikes and private cars are not charged for entering the Clean Air Zone.
Credit: Local Democracy Reporting Service/John Wimperis