Cleaning up Bristol’s air

Kye DuddToday’s guest blog comes from my Cabinet lead for Energy, Waste and Regulatory Services, Kye Dudd.

As the cabinet member with responsibility for Energy and Waste, and as a city centre councillor, I know just how important improving air quality is for Bristolians. In our 2016 manifesto, I was proud to stand with Marvin on a Labour manifesto which committed our administration to cleaning up Bristol’s air.

Nearly 100,000 people – a quarter of the city – live within the current Air Quality Management Area. Many more work or go to school in this central part of Bristol. The main routes in and out of our city feed our economy and prosperity, but also bring far too much pollution with them. Almost three-quarters of Bristolians agree that this is a major public health issue, evidenced by the sad statistic that around 300 deaths in our city every year are linked to poor air quality.

Therefore I am pleased to be presenting a report at the cabinet meeting on Tuesday 6 March which will move us closer towards achieving this key mayoral priority.

After feasibility studies funded by central government, we will be considering a variety of plans and interventions: some charging, some not; some covering larger areas, some smaller ones. More than seventy possible options have been narrowed down to five which bring us in compliance with the law in the shortest possible time. All of the options on the table would have a big impact on our air quality, particularly when it comes to reducing the amount of nitrogen dioxide which we breathe in. Each deserves further detailed consideration to understand their effects. We will then decide on the way forward after consulting with local people.

Marvin’s administration has already made progress towards delivering cleaner air, even before next week’s significant step forward. The council is leading from the front, smashing our own carbon emissions reduction target. We are on track to be a clean-energy-powered, carbon neutral city by 2050 – a stronger commitment than those signed up to by national governments as part of the international Paris Climate Agreement. On the back of securing 110 clean bio-gas buses last year, spearheaded by my cabinet colleague Mhairi Threlfall, last month Bristol City Council won an additional £2.2 million to retrofit more than 80 of the city’s oldest, most polluting buses.

This administration is committed to Bristol’s environment. Last week Labour councillors – though sadly opposed by all of the opposition parties, including the Greens –  voted to maintain the council’s multi-million pound investments in renewable energy and heat networks to tackle climate change and reduce fuel poverty.

Next week’s cabinet paper, which includes details about the equalities impact assessment, can be found here.

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