Clean Air Zone launches in Bath

By Nick Batten on 16 March, 2021

Bath’s Clean Air Zone, the UK’s first charging clean air zone (CAZ) outside of London, has launched in the city to drive down harmful pollution and protect public health.

As of 15th March, polluting vehicles can be charged £9 or £100 a day to drive in the centre of Bath. Private cars and motorbikes will not be charged.

The scheme is designed to tackle Bath’s air pollution problem which is chiefly caused by vehicle emissions. Several areas in the city regularly exceed the legal limits for nitrogen dioxide (NO2) pollution – even during lockdown.

Daily charges will apply seven days a week, midnight to midnight, all year round for chargeable vehicles with a pre-euro 6 diesel or pre-euro 4 petrol engine.

Bath is the first of several charging clean air zones to be introduced across England over the next few years. Funding for the clean air zone has come from central government. A similar scheme already operates in London, known as the Low Emission Zone or LEZ.

The council secured £9.4 million of funding from the government to help residents and businesses, including coach companies and taxi drivers, to replace polluting vehicles with cleaner, compliant ones. The council has set up a scheme to help owners upgrade their vehicles and already more than 500 businesses have applied. A further £1.58 million has helped local bus operators to retrofit fleet not already compliant in the zone.

Automatic number plate recognition cameras are installed on all roads leading into the zone. Vehicle number plates will be checked against a DVLA database. Motorists with non-compliant, chargeable vehicles – including those from outside the UK – must declare and pay for their journey at GOV.UK or they will receive a penalty charge notice.

Residents, businesses and visitors are being asked to check if charges apply to their vehicle in Bath’s CAZ using the GOV.UK vehicle registration checker at www.gov.uk/check-clean-air-zone-charge.

Motorists are also advised to check Bath & North East Somerset Council’s website for a list of local exemptions and to find out about the grants and interest-free finance available to help those regularly affected by charges to replace or retrofit their vehicles.

Councillor Dine Romero, Leader of Bath and North East Somerset Council, said, “This is a landmark day for the city. We’ve put up with unacceptable levels of nitrogen dioxide for too long. This is unfair on residents, particularly vulnerable older people and children. We want to reduce NO2 pollution in Bath to within legal limits by the end of 2021 at the latest, and a charging clean air zone is the only way we can achieve this.

“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. However, we are working with residents and businesses to help them replace polluting vehicles with cleaner ones and there is significant financial and practical help available.”