PLANS to change the rules for vehilces entering Bath’s Clean Air Zone have been criticised, fearing it will impact on Wiltshire’s roads.
Wiltshire MPs Dr Andrew Murrison and Michelle Donelan have written to Transport Secretary Mark Harper to object to the ‘improper’ extension of the zone.
Bath & North East Somerset Council (BANES) plan to charge Euro VI diesel-powered HGV vehicles over 12 tonnes that use the zone in a bid to protect infrastructure and the World Heritage city.
In their letter to Mr Harper, they say the decision is unnecessary, has been carried out improperly and will shift heavy goods vehicles into villages in their constituencies of South West Wiltshire and Chippenham.
Mr Murrison said: “BANES, in the run up to local elections, is manipulating environmental legislation to shift heavy traffic from its doorsteps onto its neighbours.
“If it is successful, yet more traffic will rumble through Westbury, up the A350 and through Wiltshire villages.
“I share Wiltshire Council’s dissatisfaction with BANES’s conduct and cynical disregard of its neighbours which, I’m sorry to say under its current leadership, is fairly typical.”
The CAZ was designed to bring Bath’s air quality into line with the national legal limit for concentrations of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) at 40μg/m3 as an annual average. This goal has been exceeded since then. By 2021, that average was 22.99μg/m3.
The MPs say that instead of serving climate goals, this limit on HGVs is likely intended to prevent use of historic infrastructure, namely Cleveland Bridge.
BANES has recently established temporary weight restrictions for vehicles travelling over the bridge to and from the London Road to Bathwick Street and have even stated that the ban on Euro VI vehicles is designed to protect Bath’s road infrastructure.
The two Wiltshire MPs say this decision is therefore an improper use of environmental policy.
They add: “Moreover, BANES has not conducted the engagement with neighbouring authorities upon which the decision was supposed to be conditioned, at least as far as Wiltshire Council is concerned.”
The impact is being felt on Wiltshire’s main A and B roads, with roads crumbling under the weight of HGVs, potholes appearing and some householders complaining that vibration from vehicles is damaging their homes.
To have your say on the proposals to introduce the charge and time-limited exemptions at www.bathnes.gov.uk/Euro6HGVconsultation before 5pm on February 7.