Smart cameras and equipment to count incoming traffic are to be deployed by Bath & North East Somerset Council at a range of locations including rush hour hotspots over the coming weeks.
The temporary measures, installation of Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) cameras and automated traffic count (ATC) equipment, are aimed at building up a better understanding of the sort of vehicles that journey into and out of Bath as proposals are developed to improve air quality along the A4 London to Bath road.
The Council has worked closely with the central government Joint Air Quality Unit (JAQU) on the nature and extent of the surveys which will run for two weeks from Friday with additional traffic counts being carried out to supplement the ANPR data.
Bath has been identified by the Government as an area where nitrogen dioxide levels are projected to exceed national air quality objectives beyond 2021.Work being undertaken by the Council will explore measures which will improve air quality.
The Council is preparing an initial action plan which will be finalised by March 2018 to be followed by a final draft before the end of next year. This strategy will build upon the wider Bath Air Quality Action Plan which is currently being consulted on.
Councillor Bob Goodman, (Conservative, Combe Down) Cabinet Member for Development and Neighbourhoods, said: “This technology is being deployed only to gather information for the basis of our Air Quality Action Plan to help us improve air quality. It will not be used for any other purposes.
“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.”
Consultation on the Bath Air Quality Action Plan runs until November 26, 2017. A number of public information sessions have already been held and further drop-in sessions will be held at:
Morrisons supermarket, on London Road, Bath, on Thursday, November 2, from 5 to 7pm and on Monday, November 6, from 1 to 3pm.
For your information:
“Unlike greenhouse gases, the risk from nitrogen dioxide is focused in particular places; it is the build-up of pollution in a particular area that increases the concentration in the air and the associated risks…The effort to reduce NO2 also needs to be targeted on the sources that make the biggest contribution to the problem: road vehicles contribute about 80% of NO2 pollution at the roadside.” (DEFRA – ‘UK plan for tackling national roadside nitrogen dioxide concentrations’)
As well as being able to draw from an Implementation Fund, Bath & North East Somerset Council will be able to bid for money from a Clean Air Fund to help implement air quality measures such as improvements to local bus fleets, support for concessionary travel and changes to the infrastructure. The Government is also making available £100 million for new low-emission buses and retrofitting of existing vehicles. A further Government announcement is expected to follow later this year.