Green light for Bristol’s Clean Air Plan
Clean Air Zone plan: the central diesel ban area (bound by purple line) and charging zone (pink line).
By Keri Beckingham
Plans for Bristol’s controversial Clean Air Zone (CAZ) have been approved by Bristol City Council.
As previously reported, in the Bishopston Voice, Bristol City Council missed the third deadline to submit a plan to clean up Bristol’s air in July. On September 30, the council announced that an Outline Business Case (OBC) for a CAZ would be presented to Cabinet on November 5, after the government agreed to extend the deadline for submission by five weeks.
At the meeting, plans for the UK’s first ever complete ban on diesel cars were approved by councillors. Under the plans, all privately owned diesel vehicles will be barred from entering a ban zone in Bristol city centre (including the M32, the old city, Redcliffe, Spike Island, the Harbourside, and part of Hotwells) every day between 7am and 3pm by March 2021, and commercial vehicles will have to pay to enter the area.
There will also be a wider CAZ for parts of the city, including Cotham, Montpelier and St Andrews. Vehicles which enter this area, excluding taxis and emergency services vehicles, will incur fines. For taxis and vans, a daily charge of £9 will apply, and for buses and HGVs the charge will be set at £100.
All diesel powered lorries, vans, buses and taxis will be allowed in the central zone if they pay to enter a wider CAZ zone. The scheme will be enforced by a number plate recognition system.
As Bishopston and Ashley Down is right on the edge of the CAZ for buses and commercial vehicles (CAZ C), Eleanor Combley, councillor for Bishopston and Ashley Down and leader of the Green Group is concerned that HGVs and other vehicles will divert around the zone to avoid the charge, increasing local air pollution as a result.
She said: “Areas such as on Gloucester Road and Muller Road already have illegal air quality, and this modelling shows their air quality would be worse if this plan is implemented than by doing nothing.
“Bishopston and Ashley Down needs parking control and it needs reliable and affordable public transport. It needs safe routes for walking and cycling, and it needs a stop to the rat-runs through our residential streets. This plan offers none of these things - it somehow manages to get a tick in the box of legal compliance, but it is all stick and no carrot. It doesn’t do anything positive to give people an alternative to being stuck in their cars.”
Tom Brook, Labour Co-op Councillor for Bishopston and Ashley Down added: “With more than 300 deaths a year in Bristol attributable to poor air quality, it’s vital that the council acts and I applaud the bold plan put forward by Mayor Rees and his team. The ban on diesel cars, a first in the UK (but increasingly common elsewhere in Europe), has been lauded in the national press and by organisations such as Greenpeace.
“The proposed CAZ will bring Bristol’s air quality to within legal limits in the shortest possible time, whilst mitigating the impact on the lowest income families (which other options would not). Further details of the plans are being worked up, and will include exemptions for those who need it and a scrappage scheme to help people change car to a compliant model.”
Martin Fodor, Redland ward Green Party councillor said: “We had a number of worried residents getting in touch as they don’t yet know it could affect drivers of mobility vehicles, and many people and businesses with new diesel vehicles are of course upset and angry. Others have immediately pointed out that the ban could also add to serious parking pressures just outside the ban area.
“I attended and raised a number of these points in the Cabinet meeting by tabling questions to the Mayor and we shall of course try and keep residents informed.”
Anthony Negus, LibDem councillor for Cotham, also commented: “The mayor’s crucial CAZ, which charges all non-compliant vehicles, extends to the Severn Beach railway line in Cotham.
“This process, much delayed and reprimanded by Whitehall, has resulted in Bristol being the only city to ban private diesel cars, even Euro6 cleaner than petrol, from the inner zone. Instead of focusing on clean air this scheme was launched to give equal maximum weighting to public health and deprivation but, incomprehensibly, makes no concessions to reduce the impact on inner zone residents less able to adapt to its restrictions. There is no consideration of access to our many inner-city hospitals.
“Bristol deserves better than this complicated and costly scheme that fails to resolve even its own principal concerns.”
A spokesman for The Bishopston Society added: “We are pleased a CAZ policy has finally been produced. But we’re concerned that it is not going to be effective enough if it doesn't consider the wider problems of needing to seriously reduce traffic levels, deal with parking problems and improve public transport and safe cycling facilities.”
A fuller version of the Bishopston Society’s views is available on their website: www.bishopstonsociety.org.uk
A new report released in November from UK100, a network of local authority leaders, and King’s College London found that the economic health impact costs of air pollution in Bristol are estimated to be up to £170 million a year. Following this, Bristol Mayor Marvin Rees and UK100 hosted a Clean Air Summit in the Council Chamber on November 18 to bring together key organisations from across the city to discuss the impact and potential mitigations. A further update on this summit will be published in a future edition of The Voice.
To find out more about Bristol’s clean air plans and to see a map of the CAZ, visit: www.cleanairforbristol.org