Improving public health, cleaning up our air

Next week, Cabinet will consider plans to introduce a Clean Air Zone (CAZ) in central Bristol. These proposals follow years of work lobbying national government for measures to protect low-income workers and ensure that people can be supported to change to a cleaner vehicle.

This detailed preparation has also allowed us to secure the UK’s largest bio-gas bus order to clean up the bus fleet before the CAZ starts, and to work closely with University Hospitals Bristol to support keyworkers, patients, and visitors to the BRI.

The CAZ is not designed to be around forever – it is only needed to bring Bristol’s air into compliance with set standards. A CAZ is a means, not an end. Once clean air has been achieved, and when the evidence shows that it is no longer needed, the scheme can of course be reviewed.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why does Bristol need a CAZ?

Many other cities are also required to do this, after national government was taken to court by environmental groups. Under the ruling, we have a legal – as well as a moral – duty to further clean up the air we all breathe, bringing levels of pollution into ‘compliance’ with set standards.

Will my vehicle be affected?

Only older and more polluting vehicles will be charged to drive in the CAZ. We estimate that 29% of cars are not compliant with the standards. The recommended proposal would mean that cars, vans, minibuses, taxis, and private vehicles which are Euro 6 (diesel, roughly 2015 onwards) and Euro 4 (petrol, roughly 2006 onwards) will not face any charges; likewise, buses, coaches, and heavy goods vehicles which are Euro 6 will be exempt under that option.

Using https://www.gov.uk/check-clean-air-zone-charge, you can check if your vehicle would be charged. If the website shows that you would pay a daily charge if you were driving in Birmingham, then you will have to for Bristol’s CAZ.

What exemptions are likely to be put in place?

A list of proposed exemptions can be found here:

Initial one-year exemption for:

  • All residents living inside the CAZ area;
  • Registered community transport vehicles;
  • Workers with an individual income of less than £24,000 a year, travelling in or out of the zone for work;
  • People visiting specified hospitals on a longer-term basis and/or attending appointments at the BRI;
  • Blue Badge holders;
  • Home to school transport services.

Full exemptions are likely to include:

  • Disabled passenger vehicles (tax classes 78 and 85);
  • Emergency service vehicles;
  • Recovery vehicles;

What else are you doing to improve air quality?

  • Developing a wider Clean Air Plan to reduce particulate pollution, especially from solid fuel burning;
  • Progressing work towards a low-carbon, mass transit underground system;
  • Working with communities to introduce Low Traffic Neighbourhoods;
  • Expanding initiatives like School Streets to reduce vehicle pollution near schools;
  • Encouraging businesses to use freight consolidation to reduce vehicle journeys;
  • Accelerating the purchase of electric vehicles through Go Ultra Low West;
  • Installing public electric vehicle charging points;
  • Calling on national Government for the powers and resources needed to tackle solid fuel burning, industrial pollution, and bring non-mobile construction equipment up to standard

Why is Bristol proposing to charge private vehicles when Bath’s CAZ only affects commercial vehicles?

Bristol is a much larger city than Bath. The layout and infrastructure in Bristol and Bath are not the same which means they are affected by air pollution differently. The recommended CAZ option for Bristol has been designed specifically for the city to improve air quality in the shortest time by reducing harmful emissions from vehicles.