Bristol’s clean air plans approved by council

Illustration of people waking cycling and driving e vehicles

Bristol City Council has agreed its final proposals for a Clean Air Zone (CAZ). This is a health intervention to help tackle the problem of air pollution in the city.

The CAZ is due to be implemented from October 2021. The council have chosen a ‘Small CAZ D’ which covers a small area of central Bristol because it offers a balance between the most effective impact to change behaviours and improve air quality and the need to support businesses as much as possible. 

The Small CAZ D is estimated to deliver compliance with legal limits for air pollution by 2023, much sooner than previous CAZ proposals.

No vehicles are banned from entering the CAZ but older and more polluting vehicles will have to pay a daily charge (£9 for private cars) for travelling within the zone. Petrol vehicles newer than 2005 and diesel vehicles newer than 2014 are mostly exempt. It is estimated over 71% of vehicles are already compliant and so only a minority of vehicles driving in the CAZ will be charged and in subsequent years this percentage will decrease as more people take advantage of the available financial support to switch to a cleaner vehicle or a different mode of transport.  

The Full Business Case details the mitigations and exemptions that the council have proposed to support those most likely to be impacted by the proposals. Individuals earning less than £24,000 a year and no more than £12.45 per hour will be able to apply for a one year’s exemption and there will also be exemptions for hospital visitors. The proposed exemptions are to allow time for people to take advantage of financial support to upgrade to cleaner vehicles.

Mayor of Bristol Marvin Rees said: 

We have a moral and legal responsibility to make our air cleaner and the submission of this Full Business Case is a significant intervention to improve public health.

We recognise that these proposals will impact on individuals and businesses. We’re now calling on the Government to provide the funding needed to help us support these people.

We’re grateful to the thousands of individuals and businesses who took part in our Clean Air Zone consultation and we want to continue working together on our journey towards a healthier city.

We cannot take on the task of delivering clean air alone – we need all of Bristol’s help if we are to protect each other from dangerous pollution and toxic fumes. We want everyone to look at the changes they can make to their own lifestyles.

Mayor of Bristol Marvin Rees

Bristol’s biggest public transport provider, First West of England support the city’s clean air plans. James Freeman, Managing Director, said:

First West of England are fully supportive of the Clean Air ambitions of the local authorities in this area. The company is aiming to be 100% compliant with the requirements of the CAZs in both Bath and Bristol, thanks to its recent investment in many new buses and the upgrading of the rest of the fleet, so that they are all to the required Euro 6 standard.

We have been working with the council for some time to move our fleet to achieve 100% compliance by the time these measures are introduced later this year. Because the proposed introduction of a CAZ in Bristol was postponed as a consequence of the pandemic, we are very much ahead of schedule with our plans.

James Freeman First West of England

Melanie Watson, Co-Chair Bristol Transport Board, said:

Reducing traffic in the inner zone will bring benefits to air quality and people’s health and can enable greater use of sustainable travel options such as walking, cycling and public transport.

We recognise that any restrictions and charges will affect different groups in different ways and welcome the proposed mitigations. There is a balance to achieve between incentivising changes to behaviours and not penalising certain communities or groups.

Melanie Watson Co-Chair Bristol Transport Board