Bath Clean Air Zone: what fleet managers need to know

Bath’s Clean Air Zone (CAZ) - a £23 million scheme to reduce air pollution in the area - is about to launch. From 15th March, some vehicles will have to pay a daily charge to drive within the Zone if they do not meet required emissions standards. Many private cars will be exempt, but there will be fees for high-emission commercial vehicles.

If you’re currently running a fleet in and around Bath, or travel to the area frequently, you need to be prepared. Here’s what you need to know about the Bath Clean Air Zone. 


Why is the Bath Clean Air Zone needed?

In 2017, the government directed Bath & North East Somerset Council to reduce the high levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) in the city within the shortest possible time. The Clean Air Zone was deemed necessary due to the fact that several areas in Bath were exceeding the legal limits for nitrogen dioxide - which is 40μg/m3 as an annual average. 

Following discussions, the council agreed to introduce a Clean Air Zone with traffic management to manage congestion. This would charge all higher emission vehicles (except private cars and motorcycles) to drive in Bath’s city centre from 15th March 2021.

The CAZ is a natural progression from the schemes we’ve already seen responding to the ongoing Climate Emergency, such as the Ultra Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ), and the introduction of the newer Low Emission Zone (LEZ) in London. 

It’s hoped that, much like these other schemes, the Bath Clean Air Zone and subsequent traffic management will bring the NO2 levels within the city down to at least the acceptable levels


What kind of Clean Air Zone is it?

The Bath Clean Air Zone is the first to be launched outside of London, and it very likely won’t be the last, with places such as Birmingham planning to introduce their own Clean Air Zones in the near future. 

But for now, Bath is bringing in a Class C Clean Air Zone, which, in simple terms means that charges will not apply to private cars and motorbikes, even if they’re used for work. It does also mean, however, that non-compliant private hire vehicles, lorries, vans, minibuses and any other commercial vehicles will face charges. 

The CAZ will encompass the city centre - but you can see exactly what areas will be affected within this interactive map

The Bath Clean Air Zone is just one thing to bear in mind this year when it comes to fleet compliance - learn everything you need to know to keep your fleet compliant and avoid getting fined in our free guide:

Fleet Compliance

Free Download: Fleet compliance: the safety, environmental & sentencing changes you need to be aware of



How much will I be charged? 

From 15th March, you can expect to pay charges within the Bath Clean Air Zone if your vehicles are non-compliant. Vehicles that will be charged when entering the CAZ are:

  • Pre-Euro 4 petrol vehicles (including hybrids)

  • Pre-Euro 6 diesel vehicles (including hybrids)


Newer vehicles or fully electric vehicles will not be charged to enter the CAZ, and neither will private cars or motorbikes. 

This means that if you’re running a commercial fleet, you’re likely to face the daily charges, which are as follows.

  • Non-compliant buses, coaches, trucks, lorries (HGVs), and private heavy goods vehicles (PHGVs) will face a daily charge of £100.

  • Non-compliant taxis, private hire vehicles, minibuses, vans, light goods vehicles, pick-ups and campervans will face a daily charge of £9.


These charges can easily mount over time, so it’s best to know if your vehicles are compliant before you plan to enter the zone. You can check whether your vehicle (or multiple vehicles, if you’re a business) is compliant on the Bath & North East Somerset Council website. 

If your vehicles are non-compliant and you’re charged as a result, you will need to pay within 24 hours of driving into the zone, using the Drive in a Clean Air Zone service on GOV.UK.

The Bath Clean Air Zone, much like other emissions zones, will operate 24 hours a day, 365 days a year - meaning you can’t escape the charges if your vehicle isn’t compliant. For example, if your journey within the CAZ begins at 10pm and finishes at 1am, you’ll need to pay 2 separate daily charges

No reminders will be sent about the charge if you get one, and a further penalty charge of £120 (in addition to your entry fee) will be issued if you fail to pay within the timeframe. 

Like all Clean Air Zones, there are exemptions and discounts to apply for, which you can find out more about here


What support is available? 

Bath & North East Somerset Council have launched a financial assistance scheme to support anyone who is negatively affected by the introduction of the Clean Air Zone. The council is providing grants and interest-free finance to those who will regularly have to pay the daily charge to help them cope financially.

If you’re eligible for the support, you can use the funds to replace your non-compliant vehicles with new or second hand vehicles that meet the emission standards. You can also use the financial support to retrofit or adapt your existing or replacement vehicles to meet the necessary standards.

More information on grants, funding and eligibility for the support can be found right here.


How will the Bath Clean Air Zone affect businesses operating in the area?

Since the Clean Air Zone is the first to be introduced outside of London, there’s a lot more hesitancy and uncertainty around what the CAZ means for businesses. 

In the time running up to 15th March, Bath and North East Somerset Council have contacted more than 9,000 businesses to help them understand whether charges will apply to their vehicles - urging them to not “fall through the net”. Support is available, and the council is urging businesses to apply where possible.

In light of Covid-19, where more businesses are having to cut down, this is yet another cost to bear in mind. Many businesses may choose to avoid the Clean Air Zone altogether, but if this isn’t an option, will have to seriously consider how to upgrade or adapt their vehicles to meet the standard.

Bath’s decision to press ahead with the Clean Air Zone came as other local authorities delayed - with both Leeds and Bristol councils holding back on their CAZ plans due to the pandemic. However, what this means is that, while currently on-hold, the plans to bring in further Clean Air Zones across the UK are still going ahead

With pressure to meet emissions targets and the ongoing climate crisis at the near top of the government’s agenda, fleet managers can’t ignore the impact that further Clean Air Zones could have on their fleet - no matter where in the country they’re operating. We also offer a wide range of business vehicle services in nearby Gloucester.


What does this mean for businesses moving forward?

Like all fleet regulations, it’s best to be prepared. Too often, fleet managers will delay upgrading or adapting their vehicles only to face panic when new schemes come into force. In a post Covid-19 world, this is no longer an option. Whether there’s new legislative changes, further restrictions or wider economic uncertainty, your business requirements (and customers) can change in an instant - in ways never before expected.

Now more than ever, businesses need to be innovative, and flexible. At Enterprise Flex-E-Rent, we have the solution; our flexible vehicle hire service offers the security of fixed pricing, with the freedom of short term hire. 

We remove the risks associated with long term leasing contracts, allowing you to return and change vehicles within just a fortnight’s notice. Our flexible hire offering is allowing businesses to better adapt to changing circumstances, and ensure their fleets are ready for the future. 

To see how flexible hire can benefit your business, speak to one of our flexible hire experts today.

However, you need to understand how to keep your fleet compliant to avoid getting fined. Our handy guide contains the latest information you need to ensure fleet compliance, including safety and environmental legislation, as well as the sentencing changes for non-compliance. Get your copy here:

Fleet Compliance

Free Download: Fleet compliance: the safety, environmental & sentencing changes you need to be aware of

Our guide contains the latest information you need to ensure fleet compliance, including safety and environmental legislation and the sentencing changes for non-compliance.



Speak to a flexible hire expert today


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