Wiltshire Publications

Bath’s Clean Air Zone has councillors’ blood boiling

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WILTSHIRE councillors say their blood is boiling over the future impact of Bath’s Clean Air Zone on towns and villages in Wiltshire.

At this month’s cabinet meeting, councillors passionately spoke out against the impact of the newly imposed Clean Air Zone in Bath which they say will force high polluting lorries through west Wiltshire.

The deputy leader of Wiltshire Council, Richard Clewer described how the ramifications of Bath’s Clean Air Zone makes his blood boil at this week’s cabinet meeting.

Cllr Clewer said a lot had been done to improve the air quality in towns such as Bradford on Avon, but added that the Clean Air Zone simply pushed air quality issues faced by Bath onto Wiltshire.

He said: “The idea that a Lib Dem authority turns around and says ‘to keep our relatively affluent residents happy and reduce air pollution’ and I accept they need to do that but to push the pollution down onto less affluent towns like Trowbridge and Westbury, I think is utterly unacceptable.

“I hope that we use every tool at our disposal, including judicial review if needed, to try and sort out a poorly thought through policy which as far as I can see has not met any of the tests required for it.”

Gordon King, a Liberal Democrat councillor representing Westbury East, said his blood too boiled, but that work on the Clean Air Zone began long before the Liberal Democrat’s came into power in Bath & North East Somerset.

Cllr King said they were told it would be a 25 per cent increase in HGV traffic in Westbury but said it was more like a continual chain running through the A350.

“Almost nose to tail, on an almost 10 hour basis every single day and our air quality is suffering as a consequence,” he said. He then urged the cabinet to find a solution to the problems arising from the CAZ.

Cllr Bridget Wayman said that because of a weight limit imposed on Cleveland Bridge in Bath due to a failed safety test – before the first lockdown – higher polluting traffic was forced to divert onto Wiltshire roads. She added the council had supported BANES while the repair works were completed but now believes the Clean Air Zone has made the situation a permanent one.

It was said that BANES had agreed to monitor the impact of the CAZ on Wiltshire towns but the DEFRA funding only covered monitoring within the zone.

“The lack of willingness to cooperate on the part of BANES is absolutely disgraceful,” Cllr Bridget Wayman said. “One authority simply can’t dump its air quality problem onto another authority.”

Leader of the council, Philip Whitehead said a basic requirement of the DEFRA Clean Air Zone scheme is that there is no displacement onto other areas.

He said the CAZ means the traffic looking to avoid the £100 per day fee will look to west Wiltshire towns and villages “not designed to cope with it” as alternatives.

“We have raised this with our own MPs and we will continue to do so. My biggest concern is that DEFRA’s attitude that you only have to measure the impact locally means that Bath Council will say this has been a great success,” he said. “But no one is setting up those measurements in the surrounding areas. You cannot trumpet the success of something in a city when it has been a detriment to the surrounding areas.”

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