Bristol Clean Air Zone delay possible

Part of Bristol City Centre will become a 'clean air zone'.

Bristol may need to introduce its Clean Air Zone (CAZ) later than planned.

After a series of delays submitting its plans to central government, Bristol City Council was ordered to have its system for charging polluting vehicles in place by 29 October this year.

But the local authority is still waiting for the Government to approve its proposals for a small CAZ in the city centre, and will agree a start date for the scheme after that, according to a council spokesperson.

The local authority did not confirm whether a delay might be necessary when asked by the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

But the page on the council’s Clean Air for Bristol website dedicated to the Clean Air Zone now says: “The earliest we would implement the zone is October 2021.”

The council estimates nearly 75,000 polluting vehicles a day will be charged to enter the small CAZ if it is approved by the Government.

A spokesperson for the local authority said the start date for the zone, when agreed, would give residents and businesses time to prepare for its introduction and get support.

But an opposition councillor has said the council’s silence on the scheme since it submitted its final plans in February has left residents and businesses in the dark and unable to plan.

Green councillor Ani Stafford-Townsend said newly elected councillors have not received a briefing on the CAZ despite repeated requests.

It has been five years since the council passed a motion from the Greens calling for a CAZ in Bristol, the member for Central ward added.

“In the meantime, residents and businesses are unable to plan, and people are dying and being failed by empty promises,” Cllr Stafford-Townsend said.

The zone will be smaller than first thought. Credit: Bristol City Council

It has been estimated that 300 people die each year as a result of air pollution in Bristol.

The Government ordered the council to reduce the city’s toxic NO2 levels to within legal limits as quickly as possible in 2017.

Bristol City Council did not respond to a request for an interview with the cabinet member responsible for the CAZ, city mayor Marvin Rees.

But a spokesperson said: “The council have submitted the Full Business Case for the Clean Air Zone to government for their approval.

“The final plans are currently being reviewed by the government’s Joint Air Quality Unit and we’re working closely with them to provide them with extra information and to finalise the timeline for the implementation of the Clean Air Zone.

“The Full Business Case contains plans for significant support for residents and businesses that might need help to switch to a cleaner vehicle or different way of travelling.

“After our final plans are approved we will agree a start date for the zone that gives residents and businesses time to prepare for its introduction and access the support available.’’

The council has sought permission from the Government to introduce a small CAZ.

Under the plans, polluting private cars, taxis and light goods vehicles (LGVs) would be charged £9 a day to enter a boot-shaped zone in the central city.

Larger vehicles – such as buses, coaches and heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) – that emit unacceptably high levels of pollutants, would be charged £100 a day.

Charges would only apply to diesel vehicles that are Euro 5 standard and below, so roughly 2014 and older, and to petrol vehicles that are Euro 3 and below, so about 2006 and older.

But some drivers of polluting cars would be able to apply for a one-year exemption before they have to start paying the fee, and others will not have to pay at all.

Credit: Amanda Cameron, The Local Democracy Reporting Service

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