Air pollution has been a problem in Bristol and many UK cities for a long time. It affects everyone, in particular the young and old, and those with heart and lung conditions such as asthma. Nitrogen dioxide (NO2), caused mostly by vehicles, is above legal standards in central Bristol.
Bristol City Council (BCC) is under a legal duty to reduce pollution ensuring the city’s air quality meets legal limits of air pollution in the shortest possible time, and in 2019 proposed a Diesel Ban to tackle clean air, but this was ultimately rejected by central government. Work has been going on between the Council and the government’s Joint Air Quality Unit this year, including taking into consideration effects from the COVID-19 pandemic, and as such the timescales have been pushed out.
The Council are currently consulting and seeking views on two new options for improving air quality and both of these new options involve charging the most polluting vehicles to drive into central Bristol. It is a current requirement that a scheme is in place by October 2021 to ensure air pollution levels come down to below legal limits.
In light of this we - Business West Chamber & Initiative – recognise and support the need to tackle and improve air quality and we continue to look at these proposal and engage actively to ensure the final proposals agreed are workable for business and employers. Given the importance and impact of these measures we need to ensure they balance the needs of the city economically, environmentally and socially, and that the transition is over a reasonable time period with a sufficient package of support for the change and impact for business. We know that many of the current vehicle journeys are from people, delivery and other vehicles who come into or through the city centre but are based in or beyond the wider travel to work area.
On 9th November around 60 of our members had the opportunity to hear from BCC about their plans and the chance to feedback on how these new Traffic Clean Air Zone options would likely impact them. The Council’s consultation on this will close on 13th December and we are strongly encouraging all business and employers to look at it and feed in your views. We will be responding on behalf of our members.
For full information on the two charging zone options under consideration by Bristol City Council, including what vehicles would need to pay a charge, maps of the clean air zones, and to complete the consultation survey, visit: www.bristol.gov.uk/caz2020