Bath has launched the first charging clean air zone (CAZ) outside London, today.
From midnight, non-compliant vans, taxis and minibuses will be charged £9, while non-compliant trucks and lorries, and coaches and buses face a daily charge of £100. Private cars and motorbikes will not be charged.
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.
Bath’s CAZ had been due to be switched on in November 2020, but was delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Bath & North East Somerset Council says it considered air quality, traffic levels and the impacts of Covid-19 on local businesses and the economy, before agreeing the new start date of March 15, with the Government.
The CAZ will operate in the city centre 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.
Charges will apply to pre-euro 6/VI diesel and pre-euro 4 petrol vehicles, except cars and motorbikes.
The council secured £9.4 million of funding from 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.
In light of Covid-19, the council has also amended the scheme so that if eligible businesses fail their initial credit check, they can re-apply once their finances have improved.
In addition, these drivers would be able to apply for exemptions on their non-compliant vehicles for up to two years.
There are also a wide range of exemptions available for hard-to-replace or special vehicles, and to support disadvantaged groups and vital services in the city, it said.
Furthermore, discounts will be available for drivers of larger, higher emission motorhomes and horse-transporters (private heavy goods vehicles) who can pay £9 instead of £100 provided they register with the council. Applications for all local exemptions and discounted vehicles will open in November.
Councillor Dine Romero, leader of Bath and North East Somerset Council, said: “This 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 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.”