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Press release: 15 March 2021
The UK’s first Clean Air Zone (CAZ) outside of London launches on Monday 15 March in Bath to drive down illegal and harmful pollution and protect public health.
ClientEarth has previously won three cases against the UK Government over its failure to address the country’s chronic air pollution problem. As a result, ministers have ordered a number of local authorities to come up with proposals to finally tackle pollution in their areas; some, like Bath, have put CAZs at the core of these plans.
Andrea Lee, clean air campaigner at ClientEarth, said: “Across the UK, illegal and harmful levels of air pollution have been putting people in serious danger for too long. With Bath's new Clean Air Zone, and others soon to follow, we are finally seeing a concrete step that will protect people's health in a tangible way.
“It’s important to remember that these schemes are put in place for a reason: to protect people’s health. Toxic air affects virtually every organ in the body. Road transport is the biggest source of illegal pollution in our cities and CAZs are proven to be the most effective way to quickly reduce this pollution.
“Bath and other cities are stepping up to the challenge so it is essential that the UK government does everything it can to support them and help people and businesses – particularly those on low incomes and small businesses – move to cleaner forms of transport as quickly as possible.”
Air pollution is recognised by the World Health Organization (WHO) as the biggest environmental health risk in the world. It also tops the list of environment health hazards in the UK and is estimated to cause the equivalent of up to 40,000 early deaths a year.
Air pollution also reduces people’s quality of life – studies have linked it to premature births, cancer, asthma, COPD, heart disease and strokes, and there is increasing evidence on potential links to dementia and infertility.
In December 2020, a coroner confirmed that the UK’s illegal levels of air pollution contributed to the death of 9-year-old Ella Adoo-Kissi-Debrah in 2013. Earlier this month, an EU court ruled that the UK has “systematically and persistently” exceeded legal limits for dangerous nitrogen dioxide since 2010.
Clean Air Zones are designed to keep the dirtiest vehicles out of the most polluted areas of towns and cities by setting minimum emission standards – those vehicles that do not meet these standards are discouraged from entering the zone by otherwise having to pay a charge. The government’s own evidence shows that Clean Air Zones are the best way to quickly reduce illegal and harmful levels of air pollution in our towns and cities. Recent statistics show that London’s Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) has reduced nitrogen dioxide pollution by up to 37% in the 3-month period before the lockdown, compared to a scenario where no ULEZ was in place.
Other cities will implement Clean Air Zones over the next year:
The ULEZ in London will also expand from the city centre to cover all of inner London, up to the North and South circulars in October 2021.
Bath is implementing a “class C” CAZ that applies to all vehicle types except for private cars and motorcycles.
Not all vehicles will have to pay to enter the CAZ in Bath. If they meet the minimum emission standards outlined below they are exempt from the charge:
The different standards applied to petrol and diesel vehicles reflects the fact that diesel vehicles are more polluting than their petrol counterparts.
ClientEarth is a charity that uses the power of the law to protect people and the planet. We are international lawyers finding practical solutions for the world’s biggest environmental challenges. We are fighting climate change, protecting oceans and wildlife, making forest governance stronger, greening energy, making business more responsible and pushing for government transparency. We believe the law is a tool for positive change. From our offices in London, Brussels, Warsaw, Berlin and Beijing, we work on laws throughout their lifetime, from the earliest stages to implementation. And when those laws are broken, we go to court to enforce them.