Bath’s clean air zone will not be activated this year following lobbying from businesses keeping goods moving amid the coronavirus crisis.
It was due to go live in November but Government has advised Bath and North East Somerset Council to push the start date back to January 2021 at the earliest.
The move was confirmed in a letter from environment, food and rural affairs minister Rebecca Pow to the Freight Transport Association.
Natalie Chapman, its head of urban policy, said: “As the business organisation representing the logistics sector, the FTA has been urging Government to delay the introduction of clean air zones urgently to allow businesses to focus their efforts on keeping goods moving throughout the COVID-19 outbreak.
“While the FTA and its members support fully the government’s ambition to improve air quality across the UK, to achieve compliance with the schemes businesses would have to undertake significant work and planning.
“Once the immediacy of the coronavirus crisis comes to an end, FTA will continue to work with Defra and cities including Birmingham and Leeds, whose zones were due to come into force this year, to ensure the detail of the schemes take into account the needs of businesses whilst delivering improvements to air quality.”
Clean air zones are being introduced in polluted cities across the country to cut nitrogen dioxide to safe levels.
Councils were ordered to achieve compliance in the shortest possible time and by 2021 at the latest.
It is not clear how this week’s announcement will affect that target.
Bath and North East Somerset Council was due to hear back last month if Government would cover the £18 million implementation cost – just as the coronavirus pandemic took hold.
It had planned to activate Bath’s clean air zone on 4th November, with charges for the worst polluting vehicles – except for private cars.
The council said: “In light of government guidance, Bath’s clean air zone will not go live before January 2021 and we are waiting for further information from Government on when they recommend it should start.”
Bristol’s clean air zone was due to take effect from April 2021 but that has now been pushed back to an as yet unconfirmed date.
Bristol’s mayor, Marvin Rees, said: “Government has said the implementation date can be put back to protect businesses and jobs in light of the unprecedented hit they have taken due to measures we have had to put in place around coronavirus.”
Stephen Sumner, Local Democracy Reporter