Bristol City Council to backtrack on the proposed Clean Air Zone (CAZ), instead looking for an ‘alternative option to improve air quality without charging.’
This announcement follows a similar statement made by Leeds City Council yesterday (August 19) on the suspension of the city’s Clean Air Zone for the foreseeable future.
Air pollution has significantly declined during the COVID-19 pandemic and according to Bristol council, the latest air quality data has demonstrated that despite traffic levels increasing, the city centre’s pollution has remained relatively low and therefore the CAZ is no longer needed.
If air pollution remains below the legal limits then councils will no longer have financial support from the government to introduce the CAZs.
Bristol City Council has instead proposed to continue accelerating transport improvements, such as a return to improved public transport links, increased walking and cycling routes and pedestrianising areas like the Old City.
Mayor of Bristol, Marvin Rees, said: ‘Our plans have always been about cleaning up our air in the fastest possible time and not being anchored to one method. We must be flexible in our approach and work together to get this right as a city.’
Katie Nield, clean air lawyer at Client Earth commented: ‘Despite all the money already invested into introducing Clean Air Zones all across the country, the Government now looks to be eyeing a U-turn.
‘Bizarrely, ministers appear to be freezing funding for the schemes due to apparent improvements to air pollution caused by the lockdown.
‘This is incredibly short-sighted. We know that any positive impacts on air quality prompted by the extraordinary circumstances surrounding lockdown are likely to be short-lived.
‘If the Government is truly committed to a green and clean recovery, it cannot allow short-term dips in harmful pollutants to prompt row backs on action to clean up the air we breathe and protect people’s health in the longer term.’
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