Council urged to resist including private cars in clean air zone charges

The owners of private cars in Bath and North East Somerset must not be charged to enter Bath’s Clean Air Zone (CAZ), Conservative councillors say.

The Bath CAZ, the first charged clean air zone in the UK outside of London, officially launched today (15 Mar). Polluting vehicles will now be charged £9 or £100 a day to drive in the centre of Bath.

Under the current rules, private cars and motorbikes are exempt from charges. But the Conservative Group on B&NES Council fears that the Liberal Democrats could in future change the rules and extend charges to private cars.

The Conservative Group is therefore urging the Liberal Democrat Administration to commit publicly to ensuring that owners of private cars and motorbikes are not charge to enter the CAZ.

In 2017, when the Conservative Group was in power, the Council was directed by the Government to improve air quality in Bath. The Clean Air Zone was identified as a means of achieving this.

From the beginning, the Conservatives exempted private cars from the charges to ensure the less well-off would not be priced out of the city.

Cllr Paul Myers, Leader of the Conservative Group on B&NES Council, said: “The Conservative Group welcomes the official launch of Bath’s Clean Air Zone, a significant milestone in the pursuit of cleaner air.

“Poor air quality is one of the largest environmental risks to public health in the UK, and investing in cleaner air must be a top priority for all of us.

“It’s vitally important, however, that private cars remain exempt from CAZ charges. Although we fully support such measures to improve air quality in Bath, they must not come at the expense of people who live and work in the city and the health of the local economy.

“We are therefore urging the Liberal Democrats to honour the exemption for private cars for as long as the Clean Air Zone is in place.”