A further delay to Bristol’s clean air plan is ‘costing lives’, according to Cllr Eleanor Combley, leader of the Bristol Green Councillors Group, as Mayor Marvin Rees confirmed the council will finally submit a clean air plan to Defra in September 2019, after twice missing the deadline.
In a statement released earlier this week, the Mayor said they will put several measures out for public consultation this summer, including a local scrappage scheme, increased usage of a freight consolidation facility, a charge for the most polluting buses, taxis, HGVs and LGVs and improvements to the city’s bus fleet, before submitting their case to government.
Mr Rees also expressed regret at missing the second deadline in February, which was an extension of their original deadline of December 31, saying it was ‘unavoidable’ because the council’s own modelling indicated the measures would have ‘significant adverse impacts’ on some of the poorest people in the region.
‘We will deliver a clean air plan that contributes to our future vision for a healthier, cleaner, inclusive and sustainable city,’ he added.
The delay was met with anger by Cllr Eleanor Combley, who said the Mayor needs to ‘face up to his duty to take decisive action.’
‘It is deeply depressing that in the face of this public health crisis – responsible for an estimated 300 deaths per year in Bristol – Bristol’s Labour administration is going back to the drawing board once again instead of taking the bold action needed to save lives,’ she said.
‘Under their current plans, there’s no chance of any real action being taken until well into 2020. As well as a public health emergency, this is an equalities issue.
‘People in some the poorest parts of the city, in wards like Lawrence Hill, not only suffer the most from air pollution but are also less likely to own cars than wealthier residents.’
‘But it doesn’t have to be like this. Cities that have got their act together and produced concrete plans – like Birmingham – have already won tens of millions of pounds from the government to implement clean air zones and reduce the impact on residents through funding for a scrappage scheme and support for taxis.
‘We could have already guaranteed this support in Bristol but instead, we have had the astonishing spectacle of a Labour Mayor refusing to take action and even recently blaming doctors and health experts for air pollution rather than facing up to his own responsibilities.’