The Bath Clean Air Zone will go live on Monday 15 March 2021 after the original launch date of November 2020 was delayed due to coronavirus.
It will be the first charging Clean Air Zone (CAZ) to go live outside London.
Bath’s CAZ covers an area surrounding the city centre, and has been several years in the planning. Under government definitions, it is a Class C Clean Air Zone.
The council is keen to stress that cars and motorbikes will remain free to enter – regardless of their tailpipe emissions.
Instead, the heaviest-emitting HGVs, buses and coaches will pay £100 a day to enter the Clean Air Zone.
Non-compliant vans, taxis, private hire vehicles and minibuses will pay £9 a day.
Pre-Euro 6 diesel vehicles and pre-Euro 4 petrol vehicles will be charged under the CAZ.
Bath and North East Somerset Council has introduced a vehicle checker so motorists can find out if they will be charged.
Grants are available for eligible owners to replace their vehicles: van drivers can claim up to £4,500, HGV owners up to £20,000 and there’s up to £35,000 for bus and coach operators.
Interestingly, owners of non-compliant motorhomes and horse transporters can apply for a discount, taking the daily charge down from £100 to £9.
Bath is obliged under UK legislation to introduce measures to tackle air pollution: several areas in the city exceed the UK legal limit for NOx emissions.
Around 12,000 people in the region suffer from asthma, which can be triggered by high levels of NOx.
As many as one in four new cases of asthma in children is caused by NOx, adds the council.
The Road Haulage Association (RHA) has criticised the plans, warning it puts firms at risk. Hauliers, it claims, typically make just £60 per truck per week so cannot absorb the £100 daily charges.
“We have put forward alternative solutions to improve air quality,” said RHA chief executive Richard Burnett, “but sadly these have fallen on deaf ears.
“We all want cleaner air and we will support practical plans which make it happen, but it cannot be at the expense of businesses priming the supply chain.”
The RHA points out that part of the zone takes in a section of the A4 and A36, both key freight routes.
The Clean Air Zone “effectively turns them into toll booths for through traffic not destined for Bath”.