Impact of Clean Air Zone on Twerton, Whiteway & Southdown had been predicted, local councillor says
An increase in heavy vehicles using roads in Twerton, Whiteway and Southdown to avoid Bath's Clean Air Zone charges has become an issue of concern.
Residents have been describing how the Whiteway Road has gotten busier, with risks to safety, as many large vehicles are seen rushing past people's homes. There has also been some talk of the increased air pollution that this traffic will bring.
The conversation encouraged the Bath Chronicle to include an article on the subject last week. It has also led to some sharp discussion on the social media platform Twitter, where Councillor Dine Romero (Southdown, Lib Dem) has taken on a voluntary role engaging with Bath residents and answering some of their questions and challenges.
Councillor Romero said that the increase in heavy traffic had been "predicted" as a consequence of the Clean Air Zone as far back as the previous council run by the Conservatives - and that she had been pressing for measures to protect this area from the fallout. On Twitter she wrote:
This was predicted as a consequence of the CAZ under the previous administration and picked up by me as a concern then, and is of greater concern now that we know what happens in reality.
Because the CAZ is about reducing NO2 [Nitrogen Dioxide emitted from vehicles] in certain places, not about reducing numbers of vehicles. I continue to fight to reduce and slow vehicles on Whiteway Road.
On other threads, Councillor Romero explained that Nitrogen Dioxide, which is harmful to health, builds up especially in the city centre where the gas gets trapped between tall buildings. It is a government requirement to have a Clean Air Zone and other cities like Bristol are having to plan their own, she pointed out.
Councillor Romero also said that she has asked for Whiteway Road, Southdown Road, Englishcombe Lane, Coronation Avenue and The Hollow to be monitored to get more data on the traffic. This information could then be used to press for steps to be taken.
The other councillor for Southdown, Paul Crossley (Lib Dem), doesn't appear to have said anything openly on this issue, although residents of the ward are raising their voices over it.
One question that arises, is why the Southdown councillors didn't warn residents of the predicted increase in traffic before the Clean Air Zone was introduced. They could have held a public meeting in a local school hall one evening, or put information about it in their newsletters. Not only did the councillors refrain from speaking out publicly on this community's behalf, but they also didn't warn residents, meaning that the community itself couldn't lobby for the Clean Air Zone plan to be amended before implementation so as not to hit this area so hard.