Tree sur­geon takes axe to clean air plans as 5,000 sign pe­ti­tion

Bath Chronicle - - NEWS - Sam Peth­er­ick Chief re­porter @sam­peth­er­ick | 01225 322213 sam.peth­er­[email protected]­

More than 5,000 peo­ple have signed a pe­ti­tion against Bath clean air zone plans and have called on the coun­cil to “stop this mad­ness.” Michael Stiff’s doc­u­ment con­tin­ues to gain sig­na­tures af­ter it was launched in early Novem­ber, de­spite the coun­cil con­sul­ta­tion end­ing on Novem­ber 26. The 42-year-old, who runs a tree surgery busi­ness on the top of Lans­down Road, said: “When I saw the de­tails of it I was ab­so­lutely shocked. I’ve been op­er­at­ing in Bath for about 20 years. To go down to my cus­tomers in the cen­tre, it would cost me £100 a day.” B&NES Coun­cil at­tracted more than 7,000 re­sponses from res­i­dents - one of the high­est num­bers for any new pol­icy - about the plan. Many peo­ple are sup­port­ive, how­ever, say­ing driv­ers must be pre­pared to take a fi­nan­cial hit for the good of ev­ery­one’s health. In Au­gust 2017, Bath was named among the 29 most pol­luted places in the coun­try. But Mr Stiff is con­cerned about the ef­fect it will have on in­de­pen­dent busi­nesses, like his Ad­mi­ral Tree Surgery. His “nor­mal sized tip­per lorry” will be classed as a heavy goods ve­hi­cle un­der the pro­posal and a trip into the zone will cost £100. He said: “It’s ab­so­lutely dis­gust­ing. “For your av­er­age guy to go into the cen­tre to pay £9 in a car be­fore they have even paid park­ing, is pretty dis­gust­ing. “One of my wor­ries is it’s go­ing to have such a detri­men­tal ef­fect on the in­de­pen­dent shops which are al­ready strug­gling. “You’re go­ing to see a lot of shops that fold.” He added: “We’ve got a crazy amount of rat runs so these are go­ing to be com­pounded. “It’s go­ing to be just ab­so­lute pan­de­mo­nium driv­ing in and around Bath. “The size of the zone [means] it’s go­ing to be hard to avoid.” He said a new, emis­sions-com­pli­ant ver­sion of his tip­per lorry costs £40,000. He said: “That’s go­ing to be an aw­ful lot of debt.” Mr Stiff sug­gested there was a lack of joined-up think­ing among city lead­ers, ev­i­denced by ap­proval be­ing granted for a new ho­tel with nearly 200 beds at a Bath Col­lege site, which falls within the clean air zone bound­aries. “They pass those projects in the cen­tre which are ob­vi­ously go­ing to bring more traf­fic, but at the time of pass­ing there’s not much talk about pol­lu­tion,” he said. “An­other point is the ef­fect it’s go­ing to have on tourism. “Bath is a tourist city. Think of the poor tourists. It’s not a very good wel­come to Bath (hav­ing to pay a non-com­pli­ant ve­hi­cle charge).” In re­sponse to the pe­ti­tion ti­tled Bath Clean Air Zone scam, B&NES Coun­cil said the aim of the clean air zone is to cut harm­ful gas emis­sions as quickly as pos­si­ble and re­buffed his claims that it is “all about money”. The au­thor­ity said: “The coun­cil has been told by the gov­ern­ment to re­duce harm­ful lev­els of ni­tro­gen diox­ide (NO2) in Bath to within EU and Na­tional lim­its (40 ug/m3) ‘in the short­est pos­si­ble time’ and by 2021 at the lat­est. “High lev­els of NO2 are widely recog­nised to be harm­ful to health - par­tic­u­larly the health of el­derly peo­ple, chil­dren and those al­ready in poor health. In ar­eas of Bath, lev­els of NO2 can reach over 60 ug/m3 which war­rants con­cern. “The pro­posed scheme is not de­signed to raise money and any rev­enue raised from charges would first go to­wards a zone’s on-go­ing op­er­at­ing costs. “Any sur­plus rev­enue would have

It’s go­ing to be just ab­so­lute pan­de­mo­nium driv­ing in and around Bath. Michael Stiff, left

Tree sur­geon Michael Stiff says the zone would cost him £100 a day

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