Last Monday was a landmark day for Bath, as Lib Dem-run B&NES Council launched the UK’s first charging Clean Air Zone (CAZ) outside London.
With the CAZ, we are taking vital action to drive down harmful nitrogen dioxide (NO2) air pollution and protect public health.
Did you know that poor air quality is harmful to our most vulnerable residents - children, elderly people and those already unwell? High levels of NO2 can cause a range of health problems and, in the long term, can affect children’s lung development or make them more likely to develop asthma.
Vehicle emissions are the main source of NO2, so the most polluting commercial traffic will be charged to enter the city centre zone.
We know this is a difficult time for businesses, but we’ve gone ahead with the zone during the pandemic because this is a pressing public health issue. Emissions exceeded legal limits even during lockdown.
We’re working with residents and businesses to help them replace polluting vehicles with cleaner ones. We’re offering significant financial and practical help, including £11m to help fund upgrades to cleaner vehicles. Private cars and motorbikes will not be charged.
Cleaning up Bath’s air will benefit all those who live, work or visit here. And of course, NO2 emissions will be reduced across the wider area due to the transition to less-polluting vehicles.
Tackling air pollution is one of the Lib Dem administration’s key priorities. We have consistently championed action to improve air quality in Bath – for both health and environmental reasons.
Councillor Sarah Warren, the lead Cabinet member for the Clean Air Zone, said:
“The Clean Air Zone is just the start of a concerted effort to promote more sustainable travel. We’re also looking at developing liveable neighbourhoods, supporting businesses to use e-cargo bike deliveries, improving our public transport and encouraging more active travel, such as walking and cycling. Any revenue from the zone, over and above the operating costs, must and will be reinvested in sustainable transport for the area.”
On its own, the CAZ cannot respond to all the transport-related problems we face. But it is an important first step in protecting residents’ health from toxic air.
Our aspiration over the coming years is for Bath to become an exemplar of sustainable transport in a heritage setting, and Monday’s CAZ launch marks a big step along the route.