Bath and North East Somerset Council is set to launch a consultation to find out if people will support expanding charges to include Class N3 Euro VI diesel HGVs.
This would be a local charge, sitting outside the national Clean Air Zone Framework.
Currently, non-compliant Class N3 Euro V trucks currently must pay £100 a day to enter the zone.
The Road Haulage Association (RHA) has branded the move as premature, warning that hauliers will struggle to source costly new trucks as the market cannot yet support a large-scale switch to low and zero-emission vehicles.
Chris Ashley, RHA policy lead, environment and vehicles, urged officials to look at alternative ways to improve air quality through better traffic management.
He said: “We share Bath and North East Somerset Council’s ambitions to improve air quality but we have to be realistic about how we try to do it.
“Simply taxing diesel trucks out of the city is not how to support small businesses through a costly and complex transition to alternative power, nor does it efficiently target the sources of harmful emissions.
“We’re ready to work with councillors on realistic, sustainable ways of reducing congestion and improving air quality in the city.”
Bath launched its CAZ – the first charging CAZ outside London – in March, 2021.
The council said that tightening the rules further was aimed at further improving local air quality, reducing demand for road space, protecting Bath’s world hertiage setting, and responding to the climate and ecological emergencies.
It added that HGVs weighing under 12 tonnes would be unaffected by this variation.
A report before cabinet said considerable fleet improvements have already been made by owners and operators of heavier HGVs in response to the CAZ and in recognition of this, and with a view to protecting local small and medium-sized businesses and their supply chains, the proposed charging mechanism would be supported by a suite of time-limited local exemptions, based on feedback from the proposed public consultation.
There would also be a period of soft enforcement to help embed the change. These exemptions would complement the existing exemptions for hybrid, electric and alternatively fuelled vehicles.
Councillor Manda Rigby, the cabinet member for transport, told Somerset Live: “The clean air zone is part of a package of measures we’ve introduced to improve Bath’s air quality and it is making a difference.
“Varying the zone’s Charging Order would help us make further progress, not only in the quality of the air we breathe but also in tackling congestion in our World Heritage City and around the Grade II* Cleveland Bridge.
“However, varying the Order has to be balanced with support for business which means working with fleet owners as part of a proposed consultation.”g