Smart Transport

Bristol reconsiders its clean air zone plans

Bristol City Council is looking to introduce alternative options to improve air quality after it said it may scrap plans to introduce a clean air zone (CAZ).

It follows a decision by Leeds City Council to rethink its CAZ plans.

As a result of the Coronavirus pandemic, Bristol’s mayor Marvin Rees says travel habits in the city are changing and its pollution levels are lower.

“Our plans have always been about cleaning up our air in the fastest possible time and not being anchored to one method,” explain Rees.

He continued: “We must be flexible in our approach and work together to get this right as a city.

"Everyone has a role to play in reducing air pollution and if we all rise to the challenge, we can avoid bringing in costly measures."

The council confirmed it will continue to do the work needed for the charging options it has been developing but will explore new opportunities.

Rees said: “The end result could actually achieve cleaner air faster while avoiding unintended negative consequences caused by charging vulnerable communities in Bristol.”

Bristol was required by Government to submit an air quality improvement plan that would implement a Clean Air Zone, which is a specific location where action is taken to improve air quality.

To reduce exposure to air pollution, including nitrogen dioxide which comes from car fumes, the zone enforces restrictions and offers incentives to encourage the use of cleaner vehicles.

It has explored a number of options, including charging all non-compliant vehicles except for private cars, one that also banned private diesel vehicles at certain times, and one that included charges for non-compliant private vehicles.

The council’s updated clean air plans include bringing forward ‘fast track’ additional measures to improve air quality. They include lane closures in specific pollution problem locations, controlling signals to improve the flow of traffic, additional air quality monitoring and empowering residents and businesses to take responsibility for air quality in the city.

If modelling shows Bristol can sustain improved air quality and traffic levels, the CAZ will be scrapped.

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