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The purpose of Bath's Clean Air Zone

Bath's Clean Air Zone has been introduced to help the city meet UK air quality legislation. Several places in Bath currently exceed the legal limits for nitrogen dioxide (NO2) pollution which is mainly caused by diesel and older petrol vehicles. This situation is unacceptable because of the role that poor air quality plays in damaging health locally, and in the Climate Emergency more widely.

The legal limit for concentrations of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) is 40μg/m3 as an annual average.

Read more about the health effects of nitrogen dioxide (NO2)

In Bath and North East Somerset, around 12,000 people suffer from asthma, and high concentrations of NO2 can trigger attacks.

The latest research indicates that in the UK, between 1 in 4 and 1 in 12 of new cases of asthma in children each year are attributable to NO2. 74% of these cases occur in urban areas

Over the longer term, high levels of NO2 contribute to reduced lung development in children, and are linked to an increased possibility of heart attacks and dementia in older people.

In 2017, the government directed us to reduce levels of nitrogen dioxide in the city in the shortest possible time. It is providing all of the funds for us to do this, and the Joint Air Quality Unit (JAQU) is independently verifying all of the work being done.

Our technical work has shown that a charging zone for traffic is the only measure that can achieve compliance in the required time frame - effectively deterring the majority of higher emission vehicles from driving in the inner city area by charging them to drive into the zone.

Following a public consultation in Oct/Nov 2018, the council agreed to introduce a class C charging clean air zone with traffic management at Queen Square, charging all higher emission vehicles, except private cars and motorcycles, to drive in Bath’s city centre from 15 March 2021. 

Traffic management in Queen Square is a necessary compromise to enable us to avoid charging private cars. It also helps to moderate traffic flow to other parts of the city, where emissions would rise to unacceptable levels if large queues were allowed to form.

While we are not charging private cars, the council is currently looking at lots of ways to improve walking, cycling and public transport to encourage more people to choose more sustainable ways of getting around. 

We ask that all drivers consider whether or not they need to take their vehicle, and to consider walking, cycling or taking public transport instead, especially for shorter cross-city journeys.

Read more about what we are doing in Bath and North East Somerset to tackle the Climate Emergency