Bristol council opts for both CAZ and diesel ban

Bristol City Council’s cabinet will be asked to rubber-stamp both a Clean Air Zone (CAZ) and a diesel ban in part of the city centre.

The authority was expected to choose one or the other but after technical data suggested that they would not reach legal compliance for nitrogen dioxide (NO2) for another decade under either the CAZ or diesel ban, they have decided to opt for a ‘hybrid’ approach, which combines the two to move forward the compliance date to 2025.

It will make Bristol the first city in the UK the implement a ban on diesel vehicles, which would be between 7am and 3pm in a small part of the city centre.

They also say a scrappage scheme will be launched for affected residents and businesses.

The Outline Business Case (OBC), which can be read here, will be presented when the cabinet meets on November 5. If it’s approved, the authority will be asking the government for £113m to fund the measures.

By comparison, Leeds was awarded £29m and Birmingham £38m in capital funding for their respective CAZs.

Mayor of Bristol, Marvin Rees, said: ‘These ambitious plans demonstrate our commitment to tackling air pollution so we meet legal limits within the shortest time, without disproportionally affecting citizens on lower incomes which would happen with a blanket approach to charging vehicles.

‘Protecting the most vulnerable people from pollution is central to these plans and we have ensured that all impacts have been carefully considered. If approved, mitigation measures will support those most affected, especially those living in the most deprived communities.’

ClientEarth offered a lukewarm response to the OBC.

Their clean air lawyer Katie Nield said: ‘Bristol City Council is finally responding to residents’ pollution worries and looking to strengthen its proposals, but while these new plans represent a step in the right direction, they once again stop short of ridding the city of its illegally toxic air with the necessary urgency.

‘It is not right that people in Bristol will have to wait until 2025 to breathe cleaner air when cities across the country are doing it much sooner.

‘Air pollution disproportionally affects the most vulnerable members of our communities including those from poorer households. The mayor should be protecting them now.’

Mike Hawes, chief executive of the Society for Motor Traders and Manufacturers (SMMT), said the diesel ban will ’cause confusion for drivers while also undermining efforts to boost air quality.’

After being directed by the government in 2017 to improve air quality ‘in the shortest possible time’, delays to Bristol’s clean air plan have made it a long-running saga.

Earlier this month, they missed a third deadline in a year to submit an OBC to government, after Rees said they needed more time ‘to be certain’ that the plans are ‘fully scoped’.

After missing two previous deadlines, Mr Rees had been involved in a public dispute with former environment minister Therese Coffey who in January first threatened Bristol City Council with legal action.

When Air Quality News met Rees in June he insisted that measures to tackle air pollution must not negatively impact Bristol’s poorest communities.

Photo Credit – Pixabay