Bath residents are extremely concerned about air pollution in the city. Nitrogen dioxide levels along most of the main road network are well above the legal limit at which pollution is considered to be a potential health risk. Along the London Road and parts of the centre pollution levels are 50% over the limit. There are well-established links between nitrogen dioxide pollution and respiratory diseases. Diesel particulates are also a problem, being linked to both lung and heart disease. Pollution has remained at these high levels for more than ten years and is not reducing.
As a result, B&NES designated an Air Quality Management Area (AQMA), which covers most of the main road network and the centre of the city. 10,000 people live within the AQMA and by definition are being subjected to unhealthy and unlawful levels of air pollution. However B&NES has yet to take effective action to reduce air pollution. We have met with B&NES officers to discuss the next Bath Air Quality Action Plan, due in 2017.
Authorities in the UK have been slow to tackle the problem, perhaps because it is largely invisible and the impact is slow and insidious. However the issue can no longer be avoided. The High Court issued a judgement in November 2016 that the Government's Air Quality Plan failed to comply with previous rulings and relevant EU directives on air pollution, and that the Secretary of State must aim to achieve compliance with air quality standards as soon as possible. The Plan must now be revised to bring pollution levels into compliance. FoBRA has written to our MP urging that Bath be included in the scope of the Plan, which is currently limited to London and five other large cities.
We look to B&NES to tackle air pollution as a matter of urgency. Since 92% of air pollution in Bath is caused by road traffic (the remainder mostly comes from sources such as domestic boilers), action must be focused on reducing traffic volumes and other traffic measures such as the creation of a Clean Air Zone (CAZ).
See "Papers" tab on this website for FoBRA's letter to Ben Howlett MP, and relevant data: the Bath air pollution map; Bath air quality data 2015; and Bath NO2 graphs 2015.
11th November 2016