Chris Ames 27 October 2023

Air quality rules continue to trouble Bath area

Air quality rules continue to trouble Bath area image
Image: 1000 Words / Shutterstock.com

A council that had ‘officially passed a government milestone’ for cleaning up toxic air breached legal limits as traffic returned after the pandemic, according to recent data.

Bath and North East Somerset Council (BANES) said that the Government’s Joint Air Quality Unit (JAQU) had officially declared that it has passed its ‘State 2’ assessment – a checkpoint in determining Clean Air Zone is 'achieving success by improving air quality.

The council said JAQU’s assessment of 2021 data from 121 air quality assessment sites, both within and outside the CAZ, revealed an average reduction of 22% in Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) concentration between 2019 and 2021.

This article first appeared on Highways.

JAQU said that during 2021, there were no breaches of the annual mean NO2 limit of 40 µg/m3.

BANES admitted that JAQU had urged caution over the data. In fact, JAQU officials had rated the risk of an exceedance of the legal limit in the following year (2022) as high, partly because restrictions from the pandemic had reduced traffic during the first part of 2021.

The council’s own Clean Air Zone Annual Report 2022, published in August, revealed that one site (Walcot Parade, pictured) had an annual average NO2 concentration of 40.4 µg/m3.

This means that the authority continued to breach limits on toxic air pollution 12 years after they became legally binding in 2010, despite having a legal obligation to meet them within the shortest possible time.

Bath's CAZ, the first outside London, was launched in March 2021. Anyone driving a chargeable higher emission vehicle pays £9 or £100 to drive in the zone.

The charge does not apply to private cars or motorcycles.

Sarah Warren, deputy Leader and cabinet member for climate emergency and sustainable travel, said: ‘We’ve worked hard to reduce pollution both inside and outside the CAZ and this data indicates the measures we’ve taken are working.’

This article first appeared on Highways.

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