Green light given for Bristol’s Clean Air plan
By Keri Beckingham
Plans for Bristol’s controversial Clean Air Zone (CAZ) have been approved by Bristol City Council.
As previously reported in the Henleaze and Westbury 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 country’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 and St Andrews. Vehicles that 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 this will be £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, and the scheme will be enforced by a number plate recognition system.
As Henleaze and Westbury-on-Trym are right on the edge of the CAZ for buses and commercial vehicles (CAZ C), we asked local councillors and members of the Westbury-on-Trym Society to share their views on how it could impact the local community.
Geoff Gollop, Councillor for Westbury-on-Trym and Henleaze said: “Everybody deserves clean air, but the Mayor’s proposals are only spreading the pollution over a wider area by forcing diesel vehicles to use roads outside of the city centre. Locally, our side roads, which are already used by commuters will have the added pressure of diesel drivers looking to avoid the charges, and our air quality is forecast to get worse.
“This scheme is poorly thought through and gives no consideration to our residents who drive diesel vehicles and need to access city centre hospitals or help for local traders who live in Westbury and Henleaze, but work in central Bristol. I hope the Mayor will listen to the many concerns being expressed.”
Councillor Steve Smith added: “I welcome the fact that the Mayor has finally taken some action on this issue, but I am concerned about some parts of this scheme, especially the diesel ban. When modern diesels are actually cleaner than some petrol engines, this does seem like a very draconian measure. I’ve heard from residents who have just spent money on a brand new diesel car specifically because it is clean, who are now going to be hit by this.
“In addition, we have seen modelling which suggests that air quality in Westbury and Henleaze could actually get worse under this scheme. I’ve asked to see the detailed figures behind this, but so far have had no response at all.”
Hilary Long, Chairman of the Westbury-on-Trym Society (WoTSoC) thinks that Westbury-on-Trym could use a CAZ of its own, due to the amount of traffic and diesel fumes in the village. Speaking about the CAZ, she said: “I fear there will be a knock-on effect and that Henleaze and Westbury-on-Trym will experience an additional amount of commuter parking from people who have diesel engines. I expect people to park in our area and catch the bus into town, as they won’t be able to park in Redland or Cotham. We can’t sustain any more parking on our streets, as we’ve already become a park and ride for the city, and any extra commuters leaving cars this side of The Downs is only going to have a greater inconvenience for us.
“I’m afraid that when the council makes these sweeping changes to the city centre, they really do not pay any heed to what happens in the suburbs beyond. What we desperately need is a properly organised park and ride in South Gloucestershire on the other side of the city’s northern boundary, as when the arena is built it is only going to get worse.”
Mary Neave, a member of WoTSoC, said that she applauds the plan for a CAZ in general however she is concerned that it will cause more parking problems for Westbury-on-Trym and other outer-Bristol districts as a result of there being insufficient park and ride schemes for commuters to use. She said: “I am concerned about the proposed total ban on diesel vehicles in the area surrounding the BRI, Children's Hospital and Eye Hospital. There will need to be exemptions here to enable those with mobility problems, who need transport to access the hospitals.
“Hopefully more electrically-powered buses will be purchased and allowance made for the new diesel vehicles that have zero emissions.”
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. 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.
To find out more about Bristol’s clean air plans visit: www.cleanairforbristol.org
Turn to next page for Clean Air Zone map