Note from the Editor: this article appears on the front page of the March Issue of Bath Voice – however the headline is misleading for which we apologise. It stated that ‘Free Blue Badge parking to end’ which is not the case. What is changing is blue badge holders will need to pay the charge to enter the Clean Air Zone from 15th March as the exemption period comes to an end – if they do not meet the council’s emissions standards. Our sincere apologies if this has caused confusion or distress.
By: John Wimperis Local Democracy Reporter: Blue Badge holders will need to pay the charge to enter Bath’s Clean Air Zone from March 15 as the exemption period comes to an end – if they do not meet the council’s emissions standards.
The city’s clean air zone requires drivers of vehicles other than private cars and motorbikes to pay a charge to drive though the zone, which covers large parts of the city centre and adjacent areas, if they do not meet the council’s emissions standards.
Drivers with disabilities who hold Blue Badges were one of several groups able to apply for their vehicle to be exempt in the first two years of the Clean Air Zone, which came into force in 2021. But now the exemption period is almost up.
From March 15, Blue Badge holders, wheelchair accessible taxis, community health, education, social care workers, community transport, and people who got exemptions under the financial assistance scheme will all now have to pay the charge for the first time.
Bath and North East Somerset Council’s cabinet member for transport Manda Rigby said: “When we went with the first CAZ outside London, we were determined to introduce it as equitably as possible, whilst hitting its air quality targets.
“We were very and repeatedly clear about all the exemptions having a two year period from the start. Bristol had slightly over six months exempted period, Birmingham had none at all [for Blue Badge holders].
“It would be unfair on the 900+ residents who changed their vehicles with assistance from the finance scheme to help us all breathe cleaner air, if we didn’t do as initially shown in the scheme and changed the rules now for the very small minority who still have non compliant vehicles.”
Currently, there are 88 exemptions issued for Blue Badge holders, 27 of which are being actively used. 36 have not been used in the last three months and 25 have never been used.
The daily charge to enter the Clean Air Zone is £9 for taxis, minibuses, vans, pick-up trucks, and some campervans and four-by-fours; and £100 for coaches, buses, and HGVs. Private HGVs like horsebox vans and motorhomes can have the £100 reduced to £9, if registered with the council.
Motorbikes and private cars are not charged for entering the Clean Air Zone.