Drivers to be charged after all

January 25 2021

Motorists will be charged to enter a Clean Air Zone (CAZ) in the city centre, mayor Marvin Rees has revealed.
Bristol City Council had wanted to avoid forcing drivers of polluting vehicles to pay to enter a CAZ.
It hoped the road changes introduced during the pandemic to help social distancing and encourage walking and cycling would satisfy the Government that improvements in air quality over the last few months were enough to avoid charges.
But Bristol’s mayor revealed during a Facebook Live on January 13 that it will have to introduce a zone covering a small area of central Bristol where older, more polluting commercial vehicles and polluting private cars would pay to drive, referred to as a ‘small CAZ D’.
It was one of two options the council had been required to consult on for a Clean Air Zone, the other being a ‘medium CAZ C’ which would be a larger zone with a fee on commercial vehicles but not private cars.
Whitehall has ordered the authority to find the fastest way to get Bristol’s air pollution to within legal limits. A clean air scheme must be in by October.
Mr Rees said that the council’s full business case would go to City Hall cabinet next month before formal submission to government.
The mayor said: “We have always said a charging zone is a blunt instrument. We want to work with behaviour change.
“We are concerned about the potential unintended consequences of charging on household and business income particularly at this time of financial challenge for so many.
“So what we are going to do is, as well as taking action to deliver that compliance, we will be looking at how we can support people through that transition.
“This will hit the pockets of households and businesses within Bristol.”
Green Party candidate for Mayor of Bristol Sandy Hore-Ruthven responded to the announcement, stating: “After four years of inaction that has contributed to hundreds of earlier deaths, the  Mayor has finally made a decision on the Clean Air Zone.
“The choice of a small area charging zone is the solution the Green Party said was needed four years ago, and we’ve repeated those calls ever since. It looks like we’re finally there but we wait to see details of the proposals and we remain concerned that some areas may be left even longer with illegal unsafe air quality.”
Local Democracy Reporting Service