Bath & North East Somerset Council is reviewing air quality across the district in preparation for the development of a new Air Quality Action Plan which will be presented for public consultation later this spring.
To protect people’s health and the environment, local authorities have a duty to review and assess air quality to ensure it meets national air quality objectives. Where specific air quality targets are exceeded the Council must develop a plan to tackle the problem.
In common with many other areas of the country, the main source of pollution in Bath and North East Somerset is traffic, and national air quality objectives for nitrogen dioxide (NO2) have been exceeded in some areas.
The Council currently has 3 Air Quality Management Areas in Bath, Keynsham and Saltford. Recommendations have been put forward and specific initiatives have been implemented to mitigate the levels of nitrogen dioxide in these areas.
The Council’s current Air Quality Action Plan for Bath was drawn up 5 years ago and an updated plan is now being drawn up prior to the formal consultation required by law. Local people will be consulted on changes to the plan later this spring.
Previous initiative successes have included:
· The inclusion of The Daily Air Quality Index dials on our website (live). They inform the public about levels of air pollution and provide recommended actions and health advice. http://www.bathnes.gov.uk/services/environment/pollution/air-quality
· A new road scheme in the central area of Widcombe which resulted in a significant drop in NO2 concentrations.
· Our ‘Low Emission Zone Feasibility Study’ was completed in 2014 funded from a DEFRA air quality grant and it is what directed us towards recently bidding for the funding to implement a bus and taxi central area Clean Air Zone.
· The installation of 20 public electric vehicle charging points across the district, including Park & Ride sites. These are currently supplied with free electricity. We are now building upon this success with expansion of the Source West EV charging network to 600 charge points (fast, rapid, lamp-post chargers etc) across the district with the other West of England authorities.
‘Next bike’ cycle hire scheme to try and reduce the journeys taken by cars.
We were also successful in applying for finance along with our West of England partners for the ‘Go Ultra Low City Scheme. This Scheme provides a huge opportunity to reduce traffic emissions in B&NES’s three air quality management areas and help public sector and businesses reduce their transport costs and improve their environmental credentials.
The Council is also working on traffic management plans to remove pinch points on main roads – such as the provision of a bypass to the east of Bath in the form of the A46/36 link – and the enhancement of train services via the MetroWest project.
Bath and North East Somerset, and Bath in particular, is facing the same challenges as other similar cities. Following an unsuccessful bid to the DEFRA air quality grant programme for funding to promote air quality initiatives across the authority, the Council is continuing to look for alternative funding streams.
Bath & North East Somerset Council has a comprehensive monitoring network for air quality which includes over 80 diffusion tube sites, 2 portable air quality monitors and 4 static continuous air quality monitors. This network is continually being reviewed to ensure that data is robust and up to date, so that the Council can target resources towards the worst areas.