England’s first clean air zone outside of London launches today in a move which will see vehicles such as buses and lorries face charges.
Commercial vehicles which do not meet required emission standards will pay a daily charge for driving into the centre of Bath, but private cars and motorbikes are exempt.
High-emission commercial vans will pay a £9 fee and HGVs and buses £100. Private hire vehicles and taxis will also have to pay £9 per day.
Bath and North East Somerset Council is hoping the move could cut emissions to legal levels by the end of 2021.
Several areas in the city regularly exceed the legal limits for nitrogen dioxide (NO2) pollution – even during lockdown.
The council has introduced the clean air zone with £9.4m of funding from the government to help residents and businesses replace polluting vehicles with cleaner, compliant ones.
Automatic number plate recognition cameras have been installed on all roads leading into the zone, and 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 online or they will receive a penalty charge notice.
Liberal Democrat council leader Dine Romero said: “This a landmark day for the city. We’ve put up with unacceptable levels of nitrogen dioxide for too long.
“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.”
Dr Bruce Laurence, director of public health, added: “You can’t see it and you can’t smell it, but nitrogen dioxide is a hidden killer, contributing to as many as 36,000 early deaths in the UK each year.”