Bristol's Clean Air Zone delayed until 2022

Part of Bristol City Centre will become a 'clean air zone'.
The clean air zone will cover a big part of the city centre. Credit: ITV

Bristol’s Clean Air Zone (CAZ) will now be introduced next summer, the city council has announced.

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

But the authority says the delay will mean residents and businesses receive an improved package of support to help them adapt to the changes. This will include support for people to upgrade to cleaner vehicles and to travel greener.

The controversial zone will mean older and more polluting vehicles are charged to drive through the city centre as outlined in plans submitted to the government by Bristol City Council in February.

The implementation of the zone is to help the city to reduce pollution caused by traffic to government-set limits by 2023. A date the council says has been brought forward significantly since work started on the clean air zone.

A loans and grants scheme to help people upgrade their vehicles will be launched in the autumn of 2021.

More people will now be eligible for financial support after the council raised its low-income threshold from £24,000 to £27,000 by early next year.

Other support measures include:

  • £2.1m being made available for local bus and coach companies to help them buy cleaner vehicles or upgrade existing vehicles to meet the Clean Air Zone’s emission standards.

  • Over £32m made available to help businesses upgrade to cleaner vehicles. Commercial vehicle owners in the zone with existing finance agreements will also be able to apply for a one-year exemption.

  • All residents inside the zone with a non-compliant vehicle will be offered a one-year exemption to give them time to apply for financial support to switch to a cleaner vehicle or a different way of travelling.

  • The plans also include £720,000 for a new cycle scheme through Old Market that will provide the missing link on one of the city’s key cycle routes between the new segregated Baldwin Street cycle lane and the Bristol to Bath Railway Path.

  • Free electric bike loans, cycle training, free bus tickets, discounted car club membership and support to buy electric cars will also be available to encourage more people to travel differently and use cleaner more sustainable transport.

  • Bristol Royal Infirmary (BRI) patients and visitors will be exempt from the Clean Air Zone charge.

  • Blue Badge holders will be able to apply for a one-year exemption if their vehicle doesn’t meet the zone’s emission standards. 

  • People with a disabled tax class vehicle or disabled passenger tax class vehicle are automatically exempt from the charge.

Support will be available for those who need it to adjust to the changes. Credit: PA

Mayor of Bristol Marvin Rees said: “I am delighted that by taking our time to work through the data in detail we have been able to bring forward the date we will reach compliance to clean Bristol’s air."

He described the project as "complex" but said the council is "working closely" with central Government to "get it right and get the best deal for Bristol residents and businesses".

“We’ve gained valuable insight from the introduction of Clean Air Zones in other cities and I’m pleased we’ve been able to strengthen our proposals to provide a significant package of support and give people more time to prepare for the zone," he added.

“The Clean Air Zone will clean up the vehicles on our roads and reduce traffic travelling into the city. The Clean Air Zone will help us create a healthier city while ensuring we don’t adversely affect less wealthy communities and by minimising the impact on the most vulnerable”