December 2018: Mayor's Views
We're leading way in battle for cash to tackle air pollution
Air pollution is a public health crisis, with Bristol being one of many UK in cities breach of legal limits. Estimates suggest that in Bristol around 300 deaths every year are attributable to air quality, with many more suffering poorer respiratory health.
Westminster has placed a requirement on us to develop a Clean Air Plan to reduce harmful Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) pollution.
Our plan will look at ways to improve air quality, including investment in public transport and cycling, changes in traffic management, greater use of existing regulatory powers such as taxi licensing and ways to support and encourage a shift to cleaner vehicles.
We are working through all the options, taking into account the costs and anticipating consequences of each.
A failure to do this would not only risk a disproportionate financial impact on those least able to pay, it would also risk the plan failing to deliver the improved air quality it was designed for.
Around this we are still working through feasibility studies for a mass transit system including underground/overground. This would be transformational, offering a chapter change in Bristol’s transport system and a genuine alternative to private car use.
But it’s not enough for central government to set a standard and then walk away without lifting a finger to help. Success in tackling poor air quality will be dependent on adequate funding.
At the Global Parliament of Mayors, Bristol hosted the first ever joint meeting of the UK’s Core Cities and Metro Mayors. Air quality was an agreed area for us to focus. As city leaders we are on the front line of the battle for air quality and we are committed to real delivery.
We are calling for government action in two areas to enable us to protect the people we represent from an avoidable threat. First was to make an additional £1.5bn investment in the Clean Air Fund (taking the total to £1.75bn) for Local Authorities and Cities to use in mitigation. Secondly, a national targeted vehicle renewal scheme, prioritising the help for the least well off. An enhanced Clean Air Fund will be the decisive factor in determining success or failure for this national issue.
Local Government, and Bristol, wants to and will lead on this. But we all need the resources that will enable us to do so.