Bath Chronicle

City praised for plan to pur­sue clean air zone as others axed

- Stephen Sum­ner Lo­cal democ­racy re­porter stephen.sum­ner@reach­ Pollution · Ecology · United Kingdom · Somerset · London · Bristol · Leeds · Birmingham (England) · Nottingham · Cardiff · Sheffield · Bath and North East Somerset · Bath and North East Somerset · Derbyshire

En­vi­ron­men­tal­ists have praised Bath for forg­ing ahead with its clean air zone pro­pos­als when other cities are de­lay­ing or U-turn­ing on their com­mit­ments.

Le­gal ac­tion from Clien­tearth forced the Gov­ern­ment to com­mit to im­prove air qual­ity, the largest known en­vi­ron­men­tal risk to pub­lic health in the UK.

The court cases prompted a min­is­te­rial di­rec­tive to Bath and North East Som­er­set Coun­cil and 62 other au­thor­i­ties to cut ni­tro­gen diox­ide lev­els as soon as pos­si­ble and by 2021 at the lat­est.

Bath’s clean air zone is set to be the first out­side Lon­don when it launches early next year.

Katie Nield, UK clean air lawyer at Clien­tearth, said: “Clean air zones are the key to quickly re­duc­ing il­le­gal and harm­ful lev­els of air pol­lu­tion in our towns and cities – this is what re­search by cen­tral gov­ern­ment and lo­cal au­thor­i­ties shows.

“They need to be paired with the rel­e­vant help and sup­port for peo­ple and busi­nesses to move to cleaner forms of trans­port. But some coun­cils are hold­ing off or U-turn­ing on com­mit­ments to put th­ese much-needed zones in place.

“This is in­cred­i­bly short­sighted and we can al­ready see traf­fic and pol­lu­tion lev­els back on the rise in many towns and cities. Peo­ple can­not opt out of ex­po­sure to pol­lu­tion, and fur­ther de­lay­ing what we know to be the most ef­fec­tive mea­sures to clean up il­le­gally dirty air is a rep­re­hen­si­ble risk to res­pi­ra­tory health as we grap­ple with the virus.”

Cities in­clud­ing Bris­tol and

Leeds may re­think their clean air zone pro­pos­als, claim­ing they could lock in changes in life­style, work and travel pat­terns brought about by the pan­demic.

Birm­ing­ham’s zone was de­layed by is­sues with the Gov­ern­ment’s ve­hi­cle checker and then in March the coun­cil ap­pealed for more time so it could deal with the pan­demic. It will not start charg­ing un­til the sum­mer of 2021.

Derby, Not­ting­ham, Southamp­ton and Cardiff have scrapped their clean air zone plans al­to­gether. They claim they can cut ni­tro­gen diox­ide lev­els through traf­fic man­age­ment and by mak­ing pub­lic trans­port cleaner.

Ms Nield added: “Whilst au­thor­i­ties in Leeds, Bris­tol and Sh­effield seem to be mov­ing in the wrong di­rec­tion, it is great to see that Bath is go­ing ahead with its clean air zone and show­ing it­self as an ex­am­ple of a coun­cil that is pri­ori­tis­ing peo­ple’s health.

“Clean­ing up harm­ful air pol­lu­tion should be a top pri­or­ity for au­thor­i­ties across the coun­try – na­tional and lo­cal gov­ern­ment need to work to­gether to pro­tect peo­ple’s health with due ur­gency.”

Coun­cil­lor Sarah War­ren, cab­i­net mem­ber for cli­mate emer­gency, said: “Air qual­ity is a mas­sive health risk for res­i­dents of Bath and North East Som­er­set and we re­main com­mit­ted to work­ing to­gether with cen­tral gov­ern­ment to pro­tect peo­ple’s health, by bring­ing ni­tro­gen diox­ide lev­els back within le­gal lim­its in the short­est pos­si­ble time.

“Whilst traf­fic lev­els fell dur­ing lock­down they are now ap­proach­ing nor­mal lev­els and in Bath ni­tro­gen diox­ide lev­els are back up to where we would ex­pect them to be.

“We’re car­ry­ing out a joint readi­ness re­view with cen­tral gov­ern­ment with a view to agree­ing a re­vised launch date for the clean air zone early next year.

“In the mean­time our fo­cus is on pro­vid­ing all the help and sup­port we can for peo­ple and busi­nesses to move to cleaner, lower emis­sion forms of trans­port so that they can avoid charges when the zone is in­tro­duced.”

When the zone is launched, non-com­pli­ant taxis and vans will be charged £9 a day, while HGVS, buses and coaches will pay a £100 daily fee.

 ??  ?? Con­ges­tion along Lon­don Road
Con­ges­tion along Lon­don Road

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