RHA and Wiltshire Council unimpressed by proposal to extend Bath Clean Air Zone

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Both the Road Haulage Association and Wiltshire Council have expressed their disappointment regarding a proposal to extend Bath's Clean Air Zone. The proposed changes would see Euro VI HGVs of more than 12 tonnes charged £50 to enter the zone.

RHA and Wiltshire Council unimpressed by proposal to extend Bath Clean Air Zone

Since March 15th of 2021, pre-Euro 6 (diesel) and pre-Euro 4 (petrol) HGVs and buses have had to pay £100 per day to access the centre of Bath. Hybrids are exempt.

Payment for the CAZ can be made up to six days in advance, on the day the vehicle is driven in the zone, or in the six days after. The charges apply from midnight to midnight, seven days a week.

Photo credit: Bath and North East Somerset Council

Last December it emerged that councillors were considering actions to toughen the CAZ zone by making less vehicles exempt.

Now the RHA’s news service is reporting that Bath & North East Somerset Council “is set to launch a consultation on plans to slap £50 charges on Euro VI HGVs of more than 12 tonnes in a bid to improve air quality.”

“The scheme would be a local charge sitting outside the national Clean Air Zone framework which officials say could encourage a switch to low and zero-emission vehicles, reports the Road Haulage Association”

Commenting on the plan, Chris Ashley, RHA’s Policy Lead for Environment and Vehicles, said:

“We share Bath and North East Somerset Council’s ambitions to improve air quality but we have to be realistic about how we try to do it. Simply taxing diesel trucks out of the city is not how to support small businesses through a costly and complex transition to alternative power, nor does it efficiently target the sources of harmful emissions. We’re ready to work with councillors on realistic, sustainable ways of reducing congestion and improving air quality in the city.”

The RHA stressed in its report on the proposals that more than 98% of UK HGVs run on diesel.

Wiltshire Council has also expressed its “opposition and frustration” to the proposal.

Cllr Clewer said:

“We’re extremely disappointed that BANES [Bath and North East Somerset Council] is looking to change its Bath Clean Air Zone (CAZ) to introduce a charge for Euro VI diesel HGVs exceeding 12 tonnes. These are the cleanest HGVs currently on the market, so this feels less of a clean air initiative and more of a quest to restrict all HGVs in the city.”

Clewer added:

“This proposal, along with the now extended temporary 18-tonne weight restriction on Cleveland Bridge, is pushing this traffic issue on to Wiltshire roads and through towns such as Bradford on Avon, Corsham and Westbury, and this is something that we are not prepared to accept.”

Moreover, in an open letter published on Wiltshire Council’s website, Clewer said that Wiltshire Council’s own correspondence with Defra last December produced the following opinion:

“(Defra’s) starting point is that I would expect any proposals to modify a CAZ under the auspices of the NO2 programme to be fully evidenced and fit within the current Clean Air Zone framework and associated guidance including a thorough assessment of potential displacement”.

Photo: lee bristol, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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