New plans to reduce levels of nitrogen dioxide and improve air quality along the busy London Road into Bath are being drawn up by Bath & North East Somerset Council.
A series of wide-ranging measures will be considered as part of the drive by the Council to reduce nitrogen dioxide around the A4 London Road.
Bath has been identified as an area by the Government as an area where nitrogen dioxide levels are projected to exceed national air quality objectives beyond 2021. The study will explore a wide range of measures which are expected to improve air quality.
The Council will be able to draw from an £255 million Implementation Fund to carry out the initial feasibility study and council officers will be in talks with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) about this in the coming weeks.
An initial plan must be produced by the end of March next year followed by a final draft by the end of 2018.
Councillor Bob Goodman, (Conservative, Combe Down) Cabinet member for Development said: “I welcome the announcement by DEFRA of additional resources to help Bath & North East Somerset Council tackle air pollution across the whole area with particular focus on the A4.
“We know that there is increasing evidence that air quality has an important effect on public health, the economy and the environment and tackling vehicle emissions and improving air quality is one of the most urgent challenges in towns and cities across the UK.
“We understand that congestion in the centre of the Bath and high levels on some arterial routes remain a particular problem but these are not the only cause of emissions as it is a complex picture there is no one simple answer and officers will be looking at a wide range of measures over the coming months.”
Cllr Goodman also announced that, in addition to drawing up the plan and the business case, the authority would also be consulting on the planned review of the Bath Air Quality Action Plan.
This follows consultation and work with local stakeholder groups who were asked for their ideas on how to improve air quality in the city. The groups have helped to develop a list of proposals which will be published as part of the formal consultation process necessary to update the Action Plan.
Following the recent inclusion of Bath and North East Somerset in the National Air Quality Plan, the Council will be considering how best the projects can be aligned.
Councillor Richard Samuel (Lib Dem, Walcot) commented: “Whilst the Liberal Democrats welcome the announcement made by the Council – following the Council decision in July to promote a Clean Air Zone for Bath, thanks to a Lib Dem proposal – it is too little too late.
“It is hard to see how the Conservative administration will produce concrete plans by next March to make the Council compliant with the national standards by 2021.
The uncomfortable truth is that Bath will only comply with the national standards if a dramatic reduction in car use along London Road takes place and the more polluting buses and HGVs are removed from the route.
“Residents have been waiting for two years for the Conservatives to come up with ideas that work. Instead all that has happened is that the administration has wasted over £3m on the fruitless Eastern Park and Ride scheme doing nothing to reduce the London Road pollution levels.”