Bath & North East Somerset Council has confirmed it’s advancing plans for a Class C charging Clean Air Zone that will see charges introduced on vans but not cars.
Revealed last spring, the plans – now approved by councillors and due to go in front of the Government for final approval – will introduce a £9 daily fee for high-emission vans and £100 for HGVs and buses, probably from November 2020.
It’s an approach that’s come under fire from the Freight Transport Association for the toll on businesses.
Chris Yarsley, policy manager for the South West at FTA, said: “A Class C charging Clean Air Zone (CAZ) is the worst option for businesses in Bath and the regional economy; it will directly impede the work of the region’s business community. FTA is disappointed by Bath & North East Somerset Council’s decision to proceed with an air quality scheme that will exclude private cars and place the heavy financial burden of improving the city’s air quality on commercial vehicle operators. This decision is tantamount to a stealth tax on the hard-working local businesses and vehicle operators which already contribute so much to the public purse and help keep Bath functioning by delivering the goods and services that supermarkets, schools, and other businesses need operate.
“While FTA and its members are fully supportive of the need to improve air quality in the UK’s cities, a charging CAZ is not the most effective method to do so; other solutions can deliver a better outcome in a quicker time frame, without damaging the local economy. In the view of FTA, Bath & North East Somerset Council would be better placed to concentrate on traffic management and encourage the uptake of ultra-low emission vehicles.”
The final business case for the CAZ will now be submitted to the Government’s Joint Air Quality Unit for approval in February.
Councillor Dine Romero, council leader, said: “Now that the details of the zone are finalised, our focus will be on helping local businesses regularly entering the zone to upgrade non-compliant vehicles. We’ve received hundreds of enquiries about financial support already, and will be finalising the scope of this support next month when the funds will be agreed by government. If you’re interested, it’s important to let us know and we’ll contact you as soon as details are confirmed.”