Agenda item

Business Plan Update - Clean Air Zone

The six week public consultation on the Clean Air Zone (CAZ) options was one of the most comprehensive engagement exercises undertaken by the authority with over 8,400 responses.  It has not been possible to fully analyse all of the responses within the original timeline due to the volume and the number of comprehensive responses received in the last three days of the consultation period.

To adhere to the timetable originally set presents a risk that the Council could be legally challenged on the grounds of a flawed consultation and a Business Case that has not recognised the full extent of the very detailed and technical submissions made by local residents and interested parties.

This report therefore sets out the options for a revised timeline for the delivery of the project.


Councillor Tim Ball made an ad-hoc statement by saying that the Cabinet was legally obliged to make the decision this year, and it should not wait for March or any other month next year.


Councillor Richard Samuel made an ad-hoc statement by saying that the Cabinet Member responsible for the Clean Air Zone suggested that further direction on this matter would be considered by the Cabinet in 6 to 8 weeks from now.  Councillor Samuel expressed his doubt that this Cabinet would make any decision during the purdah period, and suggested that the decision would be made after Local Elections in May 2019.  Councillor Samuel was concerned that Council would be exposed to financial risk by delaying the decision on the Clean Air Zone.  Councillor Samuel recognised that there was excellent response from the public, and that the officers would need some time to get the feedback, though this would not stop the Cabinet making the decision before purdah period.


Councillor Dine Romero commented that she would be interested in mitigation measures for those who would not be able to afford newer and compatible cars, those who were providing essential services to the community and what alternatives in transport could be provided.


Councillor Bob Goodman introduced the report.

Councillor Goodman said that residents and businesses had taken the time to engage with the Council and as such, they have deserved a proper response. This was important given the unique nature of Bath which was one of only two entire cities designated by UNESCO as World Heritage Sites (the other being Venice). The area surrounding the city was also designated. Bath was a major tourist destination whilst it was also a key transit point between the south coast and the motorway network. Therefore, the Council had to balance addressing air quality, that had the potential to be a highly complex and controversial issue, with measures that may be perceived to unfairly “penalise” residents and businesses, when the causes of the poor air quality also relate to transiting traffic, tourism and the topography of the city and surrounding area.

As a responsible public body, the Council has taken its duties and responsibilities seriously and has demonstrated best endeavours to comply with the Government Directive and legal requirements. It should also be noted that the Council was significantly further ahead in this process than a number of other local authorities provided with an air quality direction.

Whilst the volume and complexity of responses to the consultation was unprecedented, certain themes were emerging, these include:

  Suggestions to either extend or reduce the boundary of the zone

  Other alternative measures to address the air quality levels

  Diversion routes to avoid ‘rat runs’

  Identification of impacts of the proposals on specific groups of people, specific localities and businesses

  Suggestions on mitigation measures such as; charging variations, public transport measures, access restrictions, infrastructure improvements, parking and transport management measures and development of low emission transport modes.

The Joint Air Quality Unit, commonly known as JAQU, was established by UK government Departments for transport and the environment to deliver national plans to improve air quality and ensure compliance EU air quality objectives. Air quality modelling was central to developing these plans.  In accordance with JAQU guidance, modelling for the local CAZ has been undertaken using the most frequently used UK model for assessing emission concentration from road traffic sources (Ref:  Atmospheric Dispersion Modelling System for Roads).  The model inputs included; emission sources, meteorological data, background pollution levels and the likely impacts of structures/urban environments.


Councillor Goodman concluded his statement by saying that that despite the challenging timeline set by the Government, the Council has achieved the deadline for submitting the initial plan to the Joint Air Quality Unit and immediately proceeded with the technical work necessary to develop a final plan and preferred option.  Extensive public and partner engagement on the initial plan was also undertaken in parallel with a view to enabling the shortest possible consultation on the final plan and preferred option.  However, the extent of the response would require additional time to complete this piece of work effectively and fairly.


Councillor Bob Goodman moved the recommendations.


Councillor Mark Shelford seconded the motion by saying that taking additional time to complete this piece of work was the right thing to do.  The volume and complexity of responses to the consultation was unprecedented and the officers would need to take some time to assess these correctly.  The Council would work on improving the health of local people with as small as possible detrimental effect on businesses in the city.


Councillor Karen Warrington also supported the motion by saying that she would not want to make final decision on this matter until all feedback from the consultation is processed.


Councillor Paul May said that Bath was a heritage city and its residents deserve clean air.  The unprecedented number of responses to the consultation deserves proper consideration so the Cabinet can get clarity on what the residents had said. 


Councillor Vic Prichard said that the Cabinet did not have enough time to consider feedback from the consultation so this was the right thing to do.  It would be unfair to residents if the Cabinet rushed to make the decision and ignored overwhelming feedback.  The Cabinet would also need to take into account people who own non-compliant vehicles and how they would travel to the hospital; what sort of public transport provision would be in the city; impact on businesses; and how to reduce the pollution.


Councillor Paul Myers welcomed the consultation responses from the public and said that the Cabinet would listen to the residents.  Councillor Myers also suggested that the Council should consider car sharing options signage, similar to Bristol. 


The Chair commented that it was important for the residents of Bath, and also North East Somerset, to be able to breathe the clean air.  The Chair also said that all of us were to blame for the pollution, and all of us would have to work together to reduce the pollution in Bath.  The Council has received over 8,400 responses to the consultation and it would have to look at all of them before taking next steps.  It would also have to consider risks to the residents, visitors and businesses including mitigation measures.




RESOLVED (unanimously) that the Cabinet agreed to:

1)  Note the unprecedented high number of consultation responses, as highlighted in section 8 of this report.

2)  Receive a further report with fully costed and modelled options, including a range of mitigation measures as soon as is reasonably possible. In any event receive an update report in March 2019.

3)  Request a full analysis of the consultation responses and any consequential statistical and financial modelling work deemed necessary to ensure comprehensive consideration of the wide range of comments received.

4)  Request Officers to continue to liaise with the Joint Air Quality Unit (JAQU) regarding the timeline and the on-going funding for the remaining Outline and Full Business cases (OBC and FBC), subject to understanding the implications of further modelling.


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