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Fears remain about impact of city’s ‘clean air zone’ on Westbury

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CONCERN still remains about the impact of Bath’s proposed ‘clean air zone’ on Westbury, despite cars now being exempt from daily charges.

Westbury’s mayor, cllr Ian Cunningham, still fears that larger vehicles, such as HGVs that will have to pay £100 to travel through Bath, will use the A350 to avoid the ‘clean air zone,’ thus impacting Westbury’s pollution levels.

Last week Bath & North East Somerset Council (BNES) voted to support plans to introduce a ‘clean air zone’ for Bath in December 2020 for lorries, but with cars exempt.

Originally it was proposed that all vehicles that did not meet the Government’s minimum emission standards would be charged a fee to drive through the ‘clean air zone’. The proposal sparked fears that north/south traffic would avoid Bath by using the A350, increasing traffic and pollution through Westbury.  There was also concern for patients of Bath’s Royal United Hospital from Westbury, who faced being charged a fee to drive through the city to access crucial services.

However, at last week’s meeting, BNES councillors decided to back a proposal which exempts cars from being charged to drive in the zone. Charges will still apply to higher emission buses, coaches and HGVs, at a cost of £100; and LGVs/vans, private hire vehicles and taxis, at a cost of £9. 

Speaking to White Horse News, cllr Cunningham said, “This is good news for car users and for Westbury residents who have reason to go to Bath or the Royal United Hospital. However, I am still concerned about the impact the scheme could have on Westbury – there is still a chance that HGVs will divert away from the ‘clean air zone’ and travel through Westbury on the A350.

“I support the idea of a ‘clean air zone’, but not when it impacts other towns that have poor air quality. We need to work together to do something about air quality across the country – but Bath’s scheme only benefits them, to the detriment of others. Where is Westbury’s ‘clean air zone’?

“Also I fear that people using cars will not understand the signs for the ‘clean air zone’ as they approach Bath and will divert via Westbury. So Westbury will still get a cut of Bath’s traffic and BNES has not made any allowance for that in their modelling.”

A BNES spokesperson said, “Following today’s (Tuesday 5th March) decision more detailed information on the scheme including bids for funding will be sent to central government. After receiving approvals and funding needed, the council will then start the formal processes for implementing the scheme, including any required consultation, with the aim of the scheme starting in December 2020.”

One Response to Fears remain about impact of city’s ‘clean air zone’ on Westbury

  1. West End Resident

    March 18, 2019 at 8:35 am

    This is terrible news for any A350 resident in Westbury. Why cant Westbury council defend its own residents for once and implement a clean air zone thru Westbury? The traffic levels of HGVs coming along the A350 through Westbury already has massive implications on the residents who live here not only with pollution but also the constant vibration that is undoubtedly causing damage to the properties here. My whole house shakes already as lorries thunder past at way more than the 30mph speed limit every single day.

    Council needs to do something for its residents for once instead of continuing to turn Westbury into the dumping zone of the SW of England. Next they’ll be announcing a nuclear energy plant on the sports centre ground!

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