Some motorists will be charged to enter a Clean Air Zone in Bristol under new proposals revealed by the city’s mayor.
Bristol City Council had wanted to avoid forcing owners of polluting vehicles to pay to enter a Clean Air Zone (CAZ), if one was imposed.
The authority hoped road changes introduced during the coronavirus pandemic to help social distancing and encourage walking and cycling would satisfy the Government’s requirements.
But Mayor Marvin Rees revealed during a Facebook Live on 13 January that a zone will need to be imposed covering a small area of central Bristol where older, more polluting commercial vehicles and private cars will have to pay a fee.
He did not state how much drivers would be charged to enter the zone - referred to as a ‘small CAZ D’ - but said it “will hit the pockets of households and businesses within Bristol”.
The mayor promised to help drivers and businesses adjust to any charges following a year of “financial challenge”, reports the Local Democracy Reporting Scheme.
“The evidence that has come through the modelling suggests we are going to be implementing a small area CAZ D,” he said.
“This is in line with our moral responsibility to deliver clean air in the shortest possible time but also that’s going to be tested legally because the legal requirement is to get to compliance in the shortest possible time.
We are concerned about the potential unintended consequences of charging on household and business income, particularly at this time of financial challenge for so many. So what we are going to do is, as well as taking action to deliver that compliance, we will be looking at how we can support people through that transition.
In September, the Mayor issued a “call to action” to residents to use public transport and active travel in Bristol or face being charged to drive their cars.
But it seems that appeal has not sustained the improvements to air quality enough to avoid the fees.
The small CAZ D would occupy a boot-shaped area formerly set aside for the council’s proposed diesel ban, which was rejected by the Government in 2019.
A clean air scheme must be in place by October and must provide the fastest route to compliance with nitrogen dioxide limits, whether that is by charging or not charging motorists.