Bristol could be the first city in the country to introduce a Clean Air Zone which bans all diesel vehicles in the centre and sees a wider charge zone for non-compliant commercial vehicles.

The delayed plans have been published by Bristol City Council following threat of legal action by the Government after the council missed deadlines to tackle air pollution.

The council cabinet is being asked to approve the plans which would come into force in March 2021.

The plans revealed radical proposals to introduce a zone which bans all diesel cars from 7am to 3pm.

The wider zone will also see a high charge for non-compliant commercial vehicles like HGVs, Busses and Coaches.

Bristol Mayor, Marvin Rees says the plans would give the 'fastest possible improvement to the city's air pollution problem'.

These ambitious plans demonstrate our commitment to tackling air pollution so we meet legal limits within the shortest time, without disproportionally affecting citizens on lower incomes which would happen with a blanket approach to charging vehicles.

Marvin Rees
The plans revealed radical proposals to introduce a zone which bans all diesel cars.

The radical proposals to cut air pollution include charging the most polluting vehicles like buses and lorries £100 a day to enter the city centre.

During the consultation period, there were two proposals, a Clean Air Zone (referred to as Option 1) with charges for non-compliant commercial vehicles (private cars not charged) and a part-time diesel car ban (referred to as Option 2).

The new proposals would combine both options.

Private diesel cars would be included in the small area ban but would escape the wider congestion charge zone.

The proposed zones for Option 1 and Option 2. Credit: Bristol City Council
The proposed zones for Option 1 (on the left) and Option 2 (on the right). Credit: Bristol City Council

What do people in Bristol think of the proposals?

The proposals :

• A 24-hour a day seven days a week HGV weight restriction (3.5 tons) on some of the most polluted routes: Rupert St, Baldwin Street, Park Row/Upper Maudlin Street, Marlborough Street and Lewins Mead.

• A charging scheme for non-compliant buses, taxis, HGVs and LGVs (a Class “C” CAZ). This charge applies once a day regardless of how many times you go in or out of the medium zone.- Taxis, PHVs, LGVs £9.00-HGVs, Buses and Coaches £100.00

• A diesel car ban on Upper Maudlin Street and Park Row running from St James Barton roundabout to ParkStreet – not including James Barton roundabout itself. -7am-3pm, 7 days a week (does not apply to taxis, private hire vehicles or emergency vehicles).

• Bus and local traffic interventions in the most polluted areas; this includes a Park and Ride on the M32, an inbound bus lane on the M32 from Junction 2 to Cabot Circus car park, an inbound bus lane onCumberland Road, and using existing traffic signals to control the amount of traffic entering congested areas with poor air quality.

The scheme could be complemented by mitigation schemes including a local scrappage scheme.

The diesel car ban would be in force from 7am to 3pm every day of the week

A six week consultation was held over summer which laid out the two options.

There were in excess of 5,000 responses from those asked their views about the impact of air pollution on our health.

66% of Bristol respondents said they were 'very concerned' about the health impacts of poor air quality.


of respondents think the clean air zone is a good way to improve air quality

However, The Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders has said that a blanket ban on Diesel vehicles will be counter-productive and other options should be taken into consideration.

Industry wants to see all cities, including Bristol, meet their targets and continues to invest in ever more advanced technology to help improve our environment. However, this proposed blanket ban, which goes against government’s guidelines, fails to distinguish between modern vehicles and decades-old technologies and will only cause confusion for drivers while also undermining efforts to boost air quality. Instead, we need a clear and consistent national approach to clean air zones that incentivises uptake of the latest, low emission vehicles, including new Euro 6 diesels, which are the cleanest ever produced, alongside improvements to traffic flow and investment in charging infrastructure.

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive