Diesel ban is one option to improve air quality

June 24 2019

Bristol City Council has released information on two options for a traffic Clean Air Plan and will be putting the options to public consultation next month.

The Traffic Clean Air Zone plan has been developed in order to protect public health and reach compliant legal standards of harmful emissions from nitrogen dioxide, without negatively impacting transport options for people on lower incomes. To achieve this, Bristol City Council is proposing:
• Option 1, Clean Air Zone (private cars not charged) – this includes a local scrappage scheme, improvements to buses and taxis to compliant standards, bus and local traffic interventions in the most polluting areas, incorporating a bus lane on the M32, a targeted diesel ban on the highway past the Bristol Royal Infirmary and a charging scheme for polluting buses, taxis, light goods and heavy goods vehicles
• Option 2, Diesel car ban – all diesel cars are banned from entering a specific central area for an eight-hour period (from 7am-3pm).
Marvin Rees, Mayor of Bristol, said: “To successfully tackle serious and complex city challenges like poor air quality we must ensure environmental and social justice go hand in hand. We cannot and will not sacrifice our low income households by introducing widespread charges which will have a detrimental impact on them.
“These latest proposals could strike the right balance by targeting the most polluting vehicles within specific classes of vehicle and by considering a dedicated area outside our central Bristol hospitals including the children’s hospital, where we want to protect those most vulnerable to pollution.
The two options will be considered by councillors a Cabinet meeting on June 18 (which occurs after the Bishopston Voice has gone to print) so we asked local councillors for their initial reaction to the proposals.
Redland councillors for the Green Party, Martin Fodor and Fi Hance will both be asking questions at the Cabinet meeting. Martin Fodor will raise the point that we don’t know if health impacts have even been evaluated or the economic case actually takes account of extra health costs.
Martin stated: “At first viewing this looks like a complex fudge, with proper details not available until two weeks into the consultation period.  We are disappointed to see that key evidence continues to be deemed confidential by the Mayor, which makes it hard to form a view on what’s being proposed. It is worth noting that delays to this whole process have resulted in hundreds of lives being cut short by toxic air.”
Fi Hance added: “Safe to say – we’re not happy at all about these proposals which are uncosted and present no evidence of what their impact would be. This has taken over two years and cost hundreds of thousands of taxpayers money and what we’ve ended up with is pretty poor.  Some of them require legislation for central government to enact, which I can’t see happening any time soon.
“What’s especially galling is that the Mayor claims to be protecting the poor by refusing to limit access by polluting cars to the city centre. He well knows that it’s the poorest in the city who are affected the most by air pollution and who are dying needlessly.”
Anthony Negus, Lib Dem councillor for Cotham said: “The consultation on air quality won't be meaningful when option 1 gives no indication of the money that will be raised to go towards mitigation of the effects on poorer citizens, for example for scrappage schemes or cheaper and more reliable alternative transport. Everybody living in the areas of bad air will be affected unless we take considered action. Option 2 carries a warning that it may not be legal which would leave a much shorter exclusion, not covering some of the worst parts of the day.”
As the technical details of each option aren’t yet ready, Bishopston Labour councillor Tom Brook stated that it would be premature to pass detailed comment at this stage. “My preferred option would be one which quickly improves our air quality to the best levels whilst minimising the negative side-effects on the most deprived communities,” he said.
Nick Plant and Gavin Spittlehouse spoke on behalf of the Bishopston Society: “Our early reading of the consultation is that the two schemes appear complementary to each other, or even opposites. The Council is obviously trying to do the bare minimum to meet the legal compliance requirements set by Government, but these choices seem strange. We’d like to see them delivering both options at the same time, or one then the other. They are small steps in the right direction. They could have a positive impact on Bishopston, although as the proposed CAZ only covers some parts of our area, we could see rat-runs of older dirtier cars skirting around it. Overall we’d prefer to see the Council acting like there’s a climate emergency taking place.
 “This feels like the Council consultation a couple of years ago asking the public which libraries they wanted to close, options A, B or C. Thanks to a big campaign the public weren't fooled by this, and the most popular response was "none of the above". If the CAZ consultation is structured as a choice, maybe people should respond with "both" rather than choosing between Option 1 or Option 2?
 “Meanwhile, we’ll be studying the detail further and watching developments as they become clear(er)…”
 A six-week public consultation on the options is due to start on 1 July.