Traffic and Air Pollution

Bath residents are very concerned about traffic congestion and air pollution. Traffic has a major impact on the appearance and amenity of Bath. Queen Square is little more than a roundabout on the A4, while the Circus is a busy rat-run. Except in a tiny central area, vehicles have priority over pedestrians and there is little provision for cyclists. Pollution and vibration from vehicles damages the historic buildings. What would be an unsatisfactory situation in any city is an absurdity in a World Heritage City which depends heavily on tourism.

Nitrogen dioxide (NO2) levels along most of the main road network are well above the legal limit at which pollution is considered to be a health risk, and show no sign of reducing. 10,000 people live within the worst affected area. These levels of air pollution are known to cause serious health effects, including early deaths (perhaps 30 a year in Bath). Despite this, successive B&NES Councils have regrettably been reluctant to implement measures to reduce traffic and pollution.

The Government has recently listed B&NES among the most polluted authorities in the country, so the Authority is now required to develop and implement a plan to reduce pollution below the legal limit in the shortest possible time.

92% of NO2 pollution in Bath is caused by road traffic, so action must be focused on reducing traffic volumes, particularly of the most polluting diesel vehicles. FOBRA calls on B&NES Council to reduce traffic congestion and air pollution by means of traffic management and reduced visitor parking in the centre, both of which are parts of the Bath Transport Strategy which was adopted with all-party support in 2014. Through traffic must be removed from the city centre and the city as a whole. An alternative route for HGVs which currently use the A36-A46 route through Bath is essential. There should be a Clean Air Zone covering the whole of central Bath.

FOBRA is a member of the Bath Alliance for Transport and Public Realm, which now has 21 members including leading business, resident, heritage and other organisations and urges B&NES to develop a transport plan, based on a Vision of Bath as:

'A beautiful city in a green setting, with vibrant public spaces, a historic centre free of all but essential traffic*, clean air, good mobility and excellent transport infrastructure'.

See "Papers" tab on this website for the relevant data: Bath air pollution map; air quality data 2016; NO2 graphs 2016; and FOBRA's responses to consultations on air pollution and transport issues.

* eg. Deliveries, cleansing, buses, taxis, key business needs, disabled, and access for residents to their homes

27 Sept 2017