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Wiltshire Council shares serious concerns about the impact of Bath Clean Air Zone

With less than two weeks until the launch of Bath's Clean Air Zone (CAZ), Wiltshire Council has shared its profound concerns over the impact it will have in Wiltshire.

Published 5 March 2021
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With less than two weeks until the launch of Bath's Clean Air Zone (CAZ), Wiltshire Council has shared its profound concerns over the impact it will have in Wiltshire.

The CAZ, which begins on 15 March, will see some vehicles that do not meet emission standards charged to enter some parts of Bath. Private cars will not be charged, but many trucks, lorries, vans and HGVs will have to pay a charge to enter the zone.

The council remains concerned that many drivers will look to avoid paying the charge, and will reroute through Wiltshire communities, aggravating existing problems with congestion and air quality.

To ensure these concerns are addressed by Bath and North East Somerset Council (BANES) and Defra, the Leader of Wiltshire Council, Cllr Philip Whitehead, has written to his BANES counterpart, Cllr Dine Romero, to reiterate the council's request for monitoring in West Wiltshire to measure traffic volumes and ensure there is no detrimental effect on the air quality.

In response, BANES has offered support to "develop a joint approach to monitoring", but with less than two weeks to go until CAZ implementation, Wiltshire Council believes this is work that should have been completed during the CAZ planning stage.

Cllr Philip Whitehead, Leader of Wiltshire Council, said: "We support the concept of Clean Air Zones and of course recognise BANES' efforts to improve air quality in Bath, but this must not come at a cost to the air quality in our West Wiltshire towns, particularly Westbury and Bradford on Avon.

"The analysis undertaken by BANES was heavily reliant on a survey of drivers about how they thought their behaviour would change. The conclusion was that the impact of Bath Clean Air Zone on communities east of Bath would be neutral, but we have some real concerns about this methodology and its findings.

"To help mitigate against any impact on West Wiltshire, we asked BANES to extend its monitoring of the area to allow us to gain a better understanding of wider HGV diversions, due to the significant costs associated with this monitoring, but this request was rejected.

"We have since reiterated this call for monitoring in West Wiltshire, particularly in Bradford on Avon and Westbury, to ensure that any vehicle displacement around Bath's Clean Air Zone does not just push the problem elsewhere and compound the air quality problem in these towns.

"However, we have not received a satisfactory response from BANES, and with less than two weeks to go, this is not acceptable for our highways network and our communities in West Wiltshire.

"We need to have this monitoring in place now, and if this monitoring shows that there is an adverse impact on Wiltshire's roads, we also need BANES' assistance in addressing this.

"We will, of course, continue to work in partnership with colleagues from BANES and Defra to ensure this monitoring takes place to protect the air quality in Wiltshire's towns and villages."

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Published 5 March 2021