Bristol's Clean Air Zone could be delayed due to 'national issue with bus lane regulations'

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

Plans to introduce a Clean Air Zone in Bristol are likely to be delayed again due to a "national issue" with bus lane regulations, according to the city's mayor.

The zone was originally due to come into force in October last year, and was then pushed back to this September.

But now it seems likely the scheme will be delayed again due to changes around bus lane regulations.

Mayor Marvin Rees said Bristol City Council has done “everything we can” to get Clean Air Zone ready and blamed Westminster for the delays, calling on the government to "come through".

Speaking at his fortnightly press conference, he also admitted that the launch would potentially be delayed longer than September, but didn’t give many details. Asked if the launch is still on track for September, Mr Rees said: “We have done everything we can in Bristol. There has been a bit of an issue.

"A national change to bus lane regulations by the government has actually resulted in one of the suppliers of the implementation changing their work programme. So that’s a national issue that could result in some issues.

The clean air zone is the smallest of the several that were proposed by the council. Credit: Bristol City Council

“We’re trying to get clarification on details on that, but it’s a concern that we now have the disruption with one of the suppliers that could impact on us. We’ll get more information on that. In the meantime it’s something we’re pushing on on all fronts.

“We’re going to get some clarity for us on the consequences of this change. Physically and socially, we’ve done what we can as a local authority, but we need the government to come through now.”

No precise date in September has been given for when the Clean Air Zone will begin, though it will affect tens of thousands of drivers across the city.

Bristol was the first city in the UK to propose a full diesel ban in its city centre. Credit: Bristol City Council

Charges would be set at £9 a day for smaller vehicles that do not meet the emissions standards and £100 for larger vehicles. Bristol City Council is legally required to introduce measures to cut harmful air pollution from vehicles driving in the city centre.

Some drivers have been given exemptions until the end of 2022 but these are unlikely to continue into 2023. But, as the launch keeps getting delayed, it seems this exemption will only run for a short time.

Credit: Alex Seabrook, Local Democracy Reporting Service