Bath & North East Somerset Council is turning on cameras and installing signage to test its systems and help promote Bath’s Clean Air Zone (CAZ) ahead of the zone’s launch in March, which will see private hire cars and some hackney carriage taxis charged £9 per day.
The council has installed 140 signs in and around the clean air zone boundary in central Bath, warning drivers that CAZ charges will start from 15 March for certain vehicles. The temporary covers will then be taken off overnight on 14 March to reveal permanent signs informing drivers that they are entering a Class C Charging Clean Air Zone.
At the same time, up to 70 automatic number plate recognition cameras will be turned on so that the council can test its enforcement systems for non-compliant vehicles driving in the zone.
While daily charges will not apply until the zone is launched, owners of non-compliant vehicles driving in the zone during December and January will be informed by letter in February that their vehicle will be subject to a charge from 15 March. These early notice letters will include information on how to check their vehicle, pay the charge and apply for support to upgrade to a compliant vehicle if eligible.
In addition, from 7 December all homes and businesses in Bath and North East Somerset will receive a postcard with key information about the zone, how to check their vehicle and access the support available. The signs and early notice letters will ensure that drivers from outside the local area are also given plenty of notice.
From 15 March, Bath’s Clean Air Zone will operate in the centre of the city 7 days a week, 24 hours and day, all year round. Charges will not apply to private cars or motorbikes, but most other vehicles will have to pay a daily charge if they don’t meet certain emission standards.
Pre euro VI/6 diesel and pre-euro IV/4 petrol buses, coaches and HGVs will be charged £100 per day to drive in the zone, while pre euro 6 diesel/pre euro 4 petrol taxis, private hire vehicles, LGVs, vans, pick-ups, campers and minibuses will be charged £9 a day. It will be up to the driver/owner of the vehicle to check their vehicle and pay within 7 days of driving in the zone at www.gov.uk/cleanairzone or they may receive a penalty charge notice.
Councillor Sarah Warren, joint Cabinet Member for Climate Emergency and Neighbourhood Services, said: “This test run is an important step for Bath’s Clean Air Zone. The signage will ensure that everyone who regularly drives in Bath is aware of charges starting in the spring, and what it might mean for them. We hope it will prompt many more drivers to check their vehicle at www,gov.uk/cleanairzone sooner rather than later.
“If you’ve checked your vehicle and charges apply, you could be eligible for financial support to upgrade or replace your vehicle with a cleaner one. Our aim is not to have polluting vehicles paying to enter the zone but to have as many businesses as possible benefit from this support before the zone starts. Local exemptions are also available for hard to replace vehicles and vulnerable groups. So please find out more at www.bathnes.gov.uk/BathCAZ.”
Councillor Joanna Wright, joint cabinet member for Transport Services, added: “As vehicles are gradually upgraded or replaced, it will be interesting to see the impact of the charging zone and our support package on air quality. Air quality and traffic levels across Bath & North East Somerset are constantly monitored to ensure that our actions help to improve the health and quality of life for the people who live, work and visit the city. We want to see cleaner air as soon as possible, and everyone can help by walking, cycling or sharing their journey wherever possible, even if CAZ charges don’t apply.”