Those who are following the Mercedes Dieselgate claims saga have something to be happy about – several months after it launched the Clean Air Zone (CAZ) scheme, Bath’s air quality has significantly improved both in and outside the city centre. Reports indicate that there has been a 12% drop in nitrogen dioxide (NO2) levels when compared to the levels recorded in the same time period in 2019. Additionally, the number of non-compliant cars going into the CAZ is down as well, while more compliant vehicles under categories that are chargeable are now entering the zone.
What is the clean air zone?
In an effort to reduce pollution and keep the air cleaner and healthier, Clean Air Zones were introduced throughout England. The CAZ refers to an area or place that is targeted due to it being in need of air quality improvement. These are typically areas in the UK that have breached air pollution legal limits.
Clean Air Zones can be in a part of a city or a single road. Likewise, certain areas may require fines or institute charges on non-compliant vehicles that enter the CAZ.
The Clean Air Zones are divided into four types or classes:
- Class A is for private hire vehicles, taxis, coaches, and buses
- Class B is for heavy goods vehicles, private hire vehicles, taxis, coaches, and buses
- Class C includes minibuses, heavy goods vehicles, private hire vehicles, vans, taxis, coaches, and buses
- Class D groups together cars, minibuses, vans, heavy good vehicles, private hire vehicles, taxis, coaches, and buses; motorcycles may be included if ordered by local authorities
Each category is given a minimum standard. If this standard isn’t met or followed, the vehicle owner or driver will be charged.
The Bath City Centre clean air zone
The Bath City Centre Clean Air Zone was launched last March 15th 2021. It is the first CAZ outside London that charges drivers and vehicles caught violating emission standards. The fines range from £9 (commercial vans, taxis, and private hire vehicles) to £100 (buses and HGVs). Motorbikes and private cars are exempt from the daily charges. Bath’s CAZ is a Class C zone.
Bath City Centre authorities implemented the Clean Air Zone scheme with the goal of reducing emissions levels at the end of the year. The Bath and North East Somerset Council is firm in its belief that high emission levels are dangerous and considered to be a public health issue. They believe that the CAZ can help bring down the city’s alarming nitrogen dioxide emissions to legal, safe levels.
High NO2 levels can lead to health problems like respiratory infections; increased risks to allergens; worsening of emphysema, asthma, bronchitis, and other lung and heart conditions; shortness of breath; and inflammation of the airways. High NO2 levels may also affect lung development in children. There are also cases that increase the risks of developing dementia.
In the United Kingdom, over 30,000 early deaths each year are related to nitrogen dioxide pollution.
With three months left till the end of 2021, Bath City Centre’s goal is slowly taking shape with significant improvements in several areas.
As mentioned above, nitrogen dioxide levels have been reduced and the number of chargeable non-compliant vehicles is now down compared to the same period before CAZ implementation. In addition to these, more vehicles have become compliant: over 90% of taxis and HGVs and 117 buses that travel into the zone now follow emission standards.
The Bath council also has a financial assistance program for non-compliant vehicles, with an initial 1000 already approved for the scheme. Several individual car owners and businesses have also gone out of their way to upgrade their vehicles according to emissions and CAZ standards.
Despite all the good news, however, authorities believe it’s still too early to declare victory. For one, Covid-19 has greatly affected the city’s traffic volumes. There are also temporary traffic pattern changes because Cleveland Bridge is closed.
Most importantly, four areas in Bath may still go over the NO2 government limit. These are Dorchester Street, Cleveland Place East Junction, Wells Road (near Churchill Bridge gyratory), and Victoria Buildings.
Bath authorities are focusing on upgrading older vans and commercial vehicles that emit high levels of pollution. Traffic monitoring is also a priority, particularly in areas outside the Clean Air Zone. Additionally, the council is looking at issues and concerns raised by certain communities and residents, opening investigations to ensure problems are efficiently addressed.
If you live within or travel through Bath City Centre’s Clean Air Zone, you have to ensure your vehicle follows the legal NO2 level limits. If you know that your vehicle follows the CAZ standards but you’ve been fined, you can find an emissions expert who can help you understand and resolve the issue.
Many people are discovering that their diesel emissions are potentially much higher due to the alleged “defeat devices” installed into their vehicles, including Mercedes. If you believe yours is an affected vehicle get in touch with the professional and highly experienced team at Emissions.co.uk right away. They will guide you through a potential claim and work with you every step of the way.