Four potential options for the establishment of a clean air zone in the centre of Bristol have been put forward for consideration by city councillors at a meeting next week.
Bristol is one of 29 authorities identified within the government’s air quality plan as needing to draw up proposals to deal with nitrogen dioxide emissions – with a December 2018 deadline for measures to be brought forward.
Options on the table ahead of the meeting on Tuesday (15 August) include restricting access to the most polluting vehicles as well as the potential for drivers to be charged to enter certain parts of the city, although plans remain at an early stage.
The city council has been assessing options for tackling emissions within the city’s air quality management Area (AQMA), having been awarded joint funding of £498,000 from government earlier this year.
Bristol’S AQMA, which was first declared in 2001, covers the whole central area of city as well as major inward arterial routes. A population of around 100,000 people lives within the area.
According to the city council, around 40% of NOx emissions in central Bristol are estimated to come from diesel cars, with 23% from diesel light goods vehicles and 22% from buses and coaches.
Consultancy firm CH2M was enlisted in March 2017 to assess future options for a clean air zone to be established within the city, to sit alongside a Clean Air Plan which is being drawn up by the local authority.
Four options have been brought forward for more detailed investigation in the next stage of the feasibility study, which will conclude in November 2017, before a final option is chosen by February 2018.
The options recommended for consideration include two potential ‘medium sized’ CAZs – one including buses, coaches, taxis, private-hire vehicles, heavy and light goods vehicles, and another covering all vehicles including cars. These would stretch across the entire existing AQMA area.
The other options include smaller CAZs covering the city centre – with one including cars and another covering commercial-type traffic.
Plans for larger CAZ options covering Bristol and of South Gloucestershire have not been recommended for consideration as it is likely they would affect journeys within areas compliant with air pollution limits and would therefore not be consistent with government’s clean air zone framework.
Commenting on the proposals, Marvin Rees, Mayor of Bristol, said: “We are making good progress in the development of a Clean Air Action Plan for Bristol which will include a range of measures to reduce air pollution to meet legal limits. At the same time we are conducting a feasibility study into a Clean Air Zone which gives us evidence-based options to consider before any measures are introduced. This Cabinet report narrows down some of the options emerging and at the meeting we’ll consider them to focus the direction of the feasibility study.
“No decisions have been made yet and clearly I will be mindful of the impacts on all road users. We need to improve air quality while reducing congestion and improving people flow, which is why I established Mayoral working groups on air pollution and congestion with Cllr Fi Hance and Cllr Mhairi Threlfall chairing them. They will be working closely on any future improvements.”
Other actions being considered by the city council within its clean air action plan include measures to strengthen the planning system to avoid air quality issues arising from new developments, working to reducing the impact of freight vehicles in the city and to bring a cleaner bus fleet to city.
The council is also exploring improvements in emissions from the city’s taxi fleet through new licensing policy which is aimed at speeding up the transition to clean vehicles. Plans are also being explored to encourage the adoption of electric vehicles.