The government has given Bristol City Council an extra five weeks to submit its Clean Air Zone (CAZ) outline business case, after missing a third deadline in a year.
The authority was last set a deadline of Monday September 30 to finalise the plans but Bristol Mayor Marvin Rees says they need 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.
She said: ‘I am absolutely astonished at your delay in improving air quality for the people of Bristol as quickly as possible.’
In August, Bristol was threatened with legal action for the second time and given the September 30 deadline with a warning that Defra may take legal action ‘without further notice.’
Dr Coffey said at the time: ‘For the avoidance of doubt, I want to be very clear that your preferred option must deliver compliance in your local area in the shortest possible time, and have a robust evidence base to support it.’
According to the council, the latest delay will not affect the implementation date of the CAZ, which is still expected in 2021.
The city council is considering two options to reduce nitrogen dioxide (NO2) emissions in Bristol — a Class C CAZ and an eight-hour diesel ban in part of the city centre.
However, according to the council’s own technical data, Bristol would not reach compliance for NO2 for another decade under this type of CAZ, which doesn’t charge private cars.
Marvin Rees, Mayor of Bristol, said: ‘We are continuing to take measures to improve both our air quality and our response to climate change.
‘We remain committed to reaching nitrogen dioxide compliance as part of our work on air quality in the shortest time possible and this delay to the process does not set back either the implementation or compliance dates.’
Responding to the latest delay, Bristol’s Green Party Mayoral Candidate, Sandy Hore-Riven, said: ‘It is not acceptable for Bristol to keep pushing back the issue of our air quality crisis. The Mayor continues to avoid decisions that actually improve our environment. His actions fall well short of the rhetoric of his words.
‘The city has already fallen one year behind the likes of Birmingham, Leeds and Bath who are implementing action on air quality. Not only are these cities complying with the law but they understand the importance of public health for their citizens.’
When AirQualityNews met Mayor Rees in June he said any measures to tackle air pollution must not negatively impact Bristol’s poorest communities.
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