Bristol's clean air zone makes more than £26 million in its first year

Bristol's Clean Air Zone was introduced in November 2022 to reduce air pollution.

Bristol's Clean Air Zone made more than £26 million in its first year of operation, Bristol City Council has revealed.

The Clean Air Zone (CAZ) was introduced in November 2022 to reduce air pollution - which is now down by 10 percent across the city, the new council report shows.

The government set legal limits for air pollution and in response, Bristol City Council set up the scheme to try and reduce pollution levels to within those limits.

A major source of pollution is cars, vans, lorries and buses, especially those with diesel engines and the daily charge to enter the zone area only affects drivers of the dirtiest, most polluting vehicles.

According to the report, some of the biggest air pollution improvements have been made in Bedminster Down Road, Hotwell Road, and Park Row.

On Park Row, there was a nitrogen dioxide decrease of 27.5 percent.

The report found that the CAZ has generated more than £31 million pounds of which £4.8 million went on operation costs.

That leaves a £26.4 million profit in its first year.

In December, it was revealed that Bristol City Council was planning to spend over £2 million on repairing roads and pavements.

The council has previously said that all the cash raised from the scheme will be spent on improving transport infrastructure around Bristol, including on bus services and cycle routes.

Speaking on the Clean Air Zone's first year of operation, Marvin Rees, the Mayor of Bristol, said: “The air that we all breathe is cleaner than it was in November 2022. Nitrogen dioxide pollution is down by ten percent across Bristol and is almost 13 percent lower inside the Clean Air Zone (CAZ).

"Outside the Bristol Royal Infirmary and Children’s Hospital, nitrogen dioxide is down by around 20 percent. And almost nine in ten journeys through the CAZ are now in compliant vehicles, up from a year ago.

“Millions of pounds of support has been paid out to Bristol residents and businesses to help them upgrade to cleaner vehicles.

“In the face of a national cost of living crisis, where everyone continues to feel the squeeze, footfall in Bristol city centre has stayed steady – even increasing by 16 percent at St Nick’s Market!

"This is testament to the dynamism and increasing diversity of our city centre’s offer, which will be seen again in just a few weeks when hundreds of thousands of people visit the Bristol Light Festival.

"The CAZ was never about making money for the council: it was about clean air. If our progress cleaning up our air continues, then, in the not-too-distant future, the CAZ should come to an end.”

A technical interim report from the Joint Air Quality Unit in November 2023 showed that Bristol had passed the Stage One assessment and the CAZ in Bristol is currently 'on track' for success.

Christina Gray, director of communities and public health at the council, added: “Clean air is important in helping reduce the risk of respiratory issues and infections such as asthma, lung cancer, heart disease, and stroke. Air pollution can also contribute to other health issues like depression.

“I am delighted to see that the Clean Air Zone is already making a huge difference to Bristol's air quality, which will have a positive impact on residents' health now and in the future.

"Our children, grandchildren, and beyond, will benefit from the cleaner air that we are all delivering through changing vehicle use and our active travel.”