BATH has been accused of plotting to shunt its pollution problem onto Wiltshire as it plans to restrict HGVs on Cleveland Bridge.

In an open letter, Wiltshire Council sets out its position and disappointment in Bath & North East Somerset Council’s (BANES) breaking its promise to work closely – adding that Wiltshire was not consulted on the new plans.

Wiltshire Times: Bath Clean Air Zone mapBath Clean Air Zone map

Plans to extend the Clean Air Zone (CAZ) to Cleveland Bridge will be discussed by BANES on December 16.

If approved, it would mean that diesel vehicles over 12 tons would be charged to enter the area which council leaders say will force HGVs to use Wiltshire roads as a route to and from the M4.

“This would potentially have a detrimental impact on traffic volumes and air quality in West Wiltshire towns and villages,” a council spokesman said.

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In the letter from council leader, Richard Clewer says: “The report falls short of exploring many other options available to deal with any air quality hot spots and wrongly singles out weight limit as the only viable option.”

The letter makes it clear that Defra’s CAZ framework supports Wiltshire Council’s position: “In implementing a Clean Air Zone, local authorities will need to consider the impact on local residents, and the need for any mitigating measures… ensuring that Clean Air Zone proposals will not result in the displacement of the most polluting vehicles away from town centres to surrounding areas.

“I will not condone any proposal which simply shunts polluting vehicles away from Bath on to Wiltshire’s roads and has an adverse effect on communities and residents in West Wiltshire,” Cllr Clewer added.

“I can confirm that Wiltshire Council will formally oppose any proposal that (to summarise Defra’s guidance) ‘…results in the displacement of the most polluting vehicles…to surrounding areas’.”

Finally, Cllr Clewer stresses the need for continued dialogue between the two councils, and other agencies, including National Highways: “The National Highways M4 to Dorset Coast Strategic study is in my view the only way to properly deal with this issue.

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“I am very happy to work collaboratively with you in support of that study to find positive solutions to improving the highways network throughout the region.”

Previously, the impact of the CAZ has sent "blood boiling" among Wiltshire councillors.

Westbury councillor, Gordon King said he was told there would be a 25 per cent spike in HGV traffic in the town but that it was more like a continual chain running through the A350.