Category Archives: Environmental and Sustainability

Save Soil

Save Soil Bristol branch smiling in front of the Clifton Suspension Bridge.
Today’s guest blog is from Sumita Hutchison, Krishnapriya C.R, and Chitra Merchant, all of whom are volunteers for Save Soil movement.

Soil is dying. Across the world, 52% of agricultural soil is already degraded. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation says we may have only 60 years of agriculture left if soil degradation continues. A global food crisis would become inevitable as a consequence.

Save Soil is a global response to this crisis. This is, first and foremost, a people’s movement which aims to inspire at least 4 billion people (60% of the world’s population) to support long-term changes to national governments policies to revitalise soil.

Cycle for soul leaflet. The picture shows four cyclists names Marcello, Dorka Oscar, and Kit. Below is a brown and green background with a map of the UK. Text reads Day 1 Edinburgh - Glasgow - Follow #CycleForSoil

World Soil Day is on Monday, 5 December, and we are marking it in a big way in Bristol.

To inspire the people of Bristol, we are hosting an uplifting Save Soil Winter Fair to learn about soil with speakers, music and art on Saturday, 3 December at the Create Centre. It’s all free: the food, the parking, the workshops, to make it accessible and inclusive to all. Everyone is welcome.

It’s part of our national cycle for soil. Our cyclists are cycling 900 miles in major cities in the UK to highlight the vital nature of soil. We will greet them in Bristol at Saturday’s event.

Why soil when there are other pressing issues? 

95% of our food comes from soil and we are losing one acre of soil every second! With the world’s population growing so rapidly, we will soon be facing a food crisis unless we act now. 

Soil is the world’s third largest carbon sink and is at the heart of food systems, global biodiversity and climate change. Soil has other significance acting as drought and flood resistant sponges. 

So, the solutions for many of the issues we are facing today; climate emergency, ecological emergency, flooding and droughts and food security are found in soils. 

Who are we in Bristol? 

The Save Soil Bristol group stand together smiling, they are wearing green jumpers and have a poster reading Save Soil.

We are the people of Bristol who have been inspired to take action. We’re students, a retired teacher, engineers, an artist, a doctor, a lawyer, a postman and so on. We have pulled together to raise awareness and make stuff happen.

We are part of a global movement that has been described as the world’s largest People’s movement. The movement is supported by people and organisations from around the world. 

  • United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (UN FAO)
  • United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD)
  • World Food Programme (WFP)
  • United Nations Environment Programme, Faith for Earth Initiative
  • The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)
  • The International “4 per 1000” Initiative
  • The Vatican
  • Muslim World League

Find out more about our global organisation from this video:

Why are we doing this? 

We have been directly working on creating healthy soils for 30 years and our environmental projects have been recognised globally. Guyana have pledged 100 km² to the implementation of save soil policy. 11 Caricom countries and 56 Commonwealth countries are adopting these measures. 

Because of the urgency we need to change at a national governmental level, with an enabling policy environment that supports farmers to implement sustainable land management practices to achieve food security, climate resilience, and carbon sequestration. But governments and policy makers will only change if we ask them to. Which is why we are trying to raise awareness with as many people as possible. Hence the dance, the mural, and the fair. 

A mural for Save Soil, hands clasped together holding soil. patterns surround the centre of the mural. Text reads Join the movement, #SAVESOIL, 90% of Soil degraded by 2050, SaveSoil.ORG.

How can you join us?

Please Join us on the 3 December with your friends and family! Please also share the event: Save Soil Winter Fair Tickets, Sat 3 Dec 2022 at 13:00 | Eventbrite

Talk about the importance of soil with as many people as possible. Online please use the hashtag #SaveSoil #ConsciousPlanet 

Go to https://consciousplanet.org/ to find out more and get involved.

£424m for clean energy in Bristol: 1,000 new jobs

Today’s blog is from Kye Dudd, Cabinet Member for Climate, Ecology, Waste, and Energy and
Labour Councillor for Southmead ward.

Decarbonising Bristol by 2030 is likely to be one of the most challenging infrastructure overhauls in the history of our city.

City Leap will play an essential role in this, it’s an ambitious energy project that will accelerate investment in our city, moving Bristol forward on our journey to net zero.

The scale of investment that is needed to make our city carbon neutral and climate resilience will likely total at least £10 billion.

We need to transform the way we generate, distribute, store and use energy at scale across our whole city. 

£1 billion of international investment to accelerate change

The council has invested nearly £100 million in decarbonisation projects over the last five years, which includes completing the construction of Castle Park Energy Centre that houses England’s largest water source heat pump. However, we need to rapidly increase the scale and pace of low carbon delivery to be able to meet our targets.

Our City Leap Energy Partnership with Ameresco Limited and Vattenfall Heat UK will secure a twenty-year framework to enable over £1 billion of international investment into low carbon energy infrastructure such as solar PV, wind generation, zero carbon heat networks, smart energy systems, and other energy efficiency measures.  

How will City Leap keep us on track for carbon neutrality?

In the first five years, the City Leap Energy Partnership’s contribution to carbon neutrality will include: 

  • Installing over 182MW of zero carbon energy generation and delivering over 140,000 tonnes of carbon savings for Bristol;
  • Expanding Bristol’s Heat Network – a network of underground pipes that will provide local businesses and residents with reliable, affordable low-carbon heat from sustainable sources, such as taking heat from water, ground or air, reducing Bristol’s reliance on fossil fuels;
  • Installing solar panels and low carbon heating systems such as air source heat pumps at local schools;
  • Supporting the decarbonisation of the council’s social housing by introducing measures such as better insulation, solar panels and heat pumps to achieve an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating of ‘C’ or better;
  • Boosting council and community-owned renewable energy projects across the city such as wind turbines and solar farms;
  • Offering decarbonisation support to public sector properties such as hospitals and schools to support Bristol’s wider efforts to be carbon neutral by 2030.

The partnership will also bring £61.5 million of social value to our city over the first five years, after we secured an initial £424 million of investment, with the creation of more than 1,000 new jobs, apprenticeships, and work placements.

Is this future possible to achieve?

Reducing carbon emissions and tackling the climate emergency is a huge challenge for everybody, but through our City Leap Energy Partnership, we’ve secured the funding, knowledge, and resources to accelerate our progress.

Collaborative action will usher a period of extraordinary innovation, investment, and growth – helping to make the just transition to net zero and securing Bristol’s reputation as a leading clean energy city for many years to come.

City Leap is a big deal for Bristol – it’s the most ambitious and exciting energy project that we have embarked on to accelerate clean energy investment and is a big step towards decarbonising our whole city and on our journey to net zero. 

Marvin and a small group of people wearing high visibility vests, stand on scaffolding in a construction site. The Bristol City leap logo is in the top right of the image, the Mayor of Bristol logo is in the bottom left.

The butt stops here: preventing environmental crime

Gordon Brady, 3GS's Operations Manager, smiling.
Today’s guest blog is from Gordon Brady, Operations Manager at 3GS

3GS has been working alongside Bristol City Council, tackling environmental crimes in the city through the Clean Streets Enforcement campaign, to create measurably cleaner streets.

Officers have been patrolling the city every day to cut down on environmental crime and increase environmental awareness. when caught, perpetrators are given a fixed penalty notice on the spot. The cases of those who refuse to pay are transferred to the courts for prosecution, where they are usually required to pay a larger fine.

3GS officers working on behalf of the council have been patrolling the streets of Bristol since February 2019, and so far, have issued 16,000 fixed penalty notices, with over 3,000 cases that have either been taken to or are in the process of being taken to court.

The work our officers do in preventing environmental crime is vital for our city. The crime has an extremely negative impact on our streets and costs Bristol’s council taxpayers millions of pounds to clear up every year.

3GS officers regularly prosecute the perpetrators of avoidable environmental crimes across Bristol:

  • Dropping litter on the street or from your vehicle, including chewing gum and cigarette butts. Our officers have issued over 14,000 penalty notices to individuals dropping cigarettes.
  • Graffiti: this includes painting or damaging a tree or any road signs
  • Flyposting: officers have issued fines for over 500 examples of flyposting.
  • Fly tipping: a reckless and lazy act, that damages Bristol’s wildlife.
  • Public urination and spitting: our officers have dealt with 242 cases of spitting and 38 cases of public urination.
  • Nuisance parking: like vehicles for sale.
  • There are cases of individuals not putting their domestic or commercial waste out properly.
  • Breaches of a Community Protection Notice.
  • Breach of Public Space Protection Orders, such as not clearing up your dogs’ mess; not keeping your dog under control; taking a dog into an excluded area, such as an enclosed children’s play area; drinking in a no-drinking area.
Mayor Marvin Rees, taking part in the Clean Streets Campaign with Easton primary school.

While the progress towards curbing environmental crime has evidently been positive, our hard work continues.

Recently, to help provide a more attractive street scene, 3GS officers have taken on the role of assisting their council colleagues in the investigation and enforcement of the handling of waste by Bristol’s commercial businesses, under section 47 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990.

In addition to this, the council offers educational programmes designed to change attitudes towards environmental crime, such as litter picks and billboard campaigns that teach the benefits of a cleaner, safer environment.

As the council takes a closer look at how we can all improve our relationship with waste during national recycling week, we celebrate a partnership that has helped transform the environmental landscape of Bristol. Supporting in the crackdown on offenders who have been responsible for the environmental deterioration of the city.

Investing in floating harbour’s wildlife and boating community

The map shows the location where the Capricorn Quay pontoon will be. On the waterfront opposite SS Great Britain.

The Floating Harbour in the heart of Bristol is over 250 years old. Functioning as a commercial dock until the mid-1970s, the harbour is now a major tourist attraction with museums, restaurants, bars, and nightclubs, whilst also maintaining a working shipyard. It annually plays host to the Harbour Festival, one of the country’s largest free festivals.

Significant investment is needed to keep the harbour running, and our plans for a new pontoon at Capricorn Quay are a step in the right direction. We are creating a large floating ecosystem combined with new moorings.

The increasing the number of moorings by 32 will provide additional income that will assist management of the harbour and its wider environment.

Combined with an integrated floating ecosystem, that connects nearby protected habitats, to improve homes for wildlife as well as overarching biodiversity value and climate resilience for the city. This is in line with the One City Ecological Emergency Strategy goal for 100% of Bristol’s waterways to have excellent water quality which supports healthy wildlife.

The project will provide a large area of floating habitat that will be both visually attractive and functional. It will transform this section of the harbour into a ‘living water park’, the subsurface forest of roots will provide shelter for fish and ideal feeding grounds, improving fish stocks.

The new reed beds will create approximately around 1,000 square metres of habitat that as an ecosystem will improve water quality, support stronger fish stocks and provide haven for birds. Residents and visitors will experience an enhanced waterfront, with visible greenery and more contact with nature.

The micro-wilderness of submerged roots creates an ideal habitat for millions of microorganisms, which use algae, carbon and excess nutrients in the water as a food source, purifying the water.

Biomatrix floating ecosystems, showing how the ecosystem supports wildlife.

The project will enhance the success of five eco-spaces already created in the harbour, including Harbourside Reedbed at Hannover Quay, Millennium Promenade Sustainable Drainage System (SuDS) and Bathurst Basin Reedbed.

The location for this and design is supported by evidence in the Biodiversity in Bristol’s Floating Harbour report (2022), the harbour Environmental DNA (eDNA) survey and Bristol ecological network mapping.

The construction uses materials carefully selected for recycled content and only non-toxic materials are used. Once grown, the system is typically 60% living biomass and 30% marine engineered materials. The proposed pontoon is steel framed, it uses polystyrene marine floats with a hardwood deck-board finish. The location on the water is shown on the image below and held in place with mooring cleats and sunken chains.

The pontoon will be connected to the existing bridgehead (formerly used by ferries), and accessible by a gated footway ramp to match the pontoons. There will be service pedestals and emergency cabinets (lifebuoy, fire extinguisher, etc) on the pontoon, and a floating washroom facility alongside the harbour wall.

Community involvement includes educational visits for local schools and citizen science projects using technology such as underwater cameras.

We are writing to local residents to make them aware of the planning submission and provide more information about the plans.

Deanfield Outdoor Centre celebrates 50 years as an education provider

Young person leaping onto the zip wire at Deanfield Outdoor Centre

Located in the beautiful Forest of Dean, Deanfield Outdoor Centre is a residential outdoor education centre, which is owned and operated by Bristol City Council’s Trading with Schools service. Since first opening its doors in September 1972, Deanfield has welcomed over 175,000 young people who have participated in outdoor activities and courses at the centre.

In early September, Deanfield celebrated its fiftieth anniversary with an event on site. Schools were invited along to the celebratory event along with other guests and current and former staff of Deanfield Outdoor Centre. Richard Hanks, Director of Education and Skills at Bristol City Council unveiled a standing stone to commemorate the centre’s fiftieth anniversary. A time capsule was also buried beside the stone for future generations of young people to discover.

The group standing by the standing stone as they celebrate 50 years of Deanfield Outdoor Centre.

As well as celebrating 50 years, the event also aimed to showcase the extensive activities and fantastic facilities that Deanfield has to offer. School children were encouraged to sample some of the activities including the zip wire, climbing tower, leap of faith, tunnels system and bushcraft.

I know how important it is for young people to get to experience nature. Being able to explore more of the world was a key experience of my own youth growing up in Bristol. For many young people growing up in cities, access to nature can be scarce, Deanfield Outdoor Centre does incredible work in making these experiences more widely accessible.

The environment is at the heart of Deanfield’s education programme as well as teaching about the benefits of outdoor activity. Being in the Forest of Dean, Deanfield incorporates its surroundings to create educational programmes centred around nature. The COVID-19 pandemic has had a huge impact on our mental and physical wellbeing and many children have become even more disconnected from nature than ever before. The work that Deanfield does is instrumental in providing young people with a safe environment to build confidence and learn new skills in the outdoors. Young people are encouraged to experience and learn about their environment through activities such as bushcraft and orienteering.

Deanfield Outdoor Centre House, the building is covered in green moss.
Deanfield Outdoor Centre

The centre also caters for families during the summer and corporate groups throughout the year. Ground floor accommodation is fully accessible, and activities can be catered for young people with special educational needs and disabilities.

If you would like to find out more about Deanfield Outdoor Centre, please visit our website, or contact Deanfield Outdoor Centre directly on dfsc@bristol.gov.uk.

Reflecting on Bristol Education Partnership’s ‘Towards Net Zero’ Event

An image of the 'Towards net Zero' event in Bristol City hall.

Speaking at Bristol Education Partnership’s ‘Towards Net Zero’ event at City Hall yesterday was a great experience. Students and staff from ten Bristol secondary schools came together to share progress and plans on how to reach net zero by 2030.

The Bristol Education Partnership is a collaboration between fourteen of Bristol’s state and independent schools, Bristol City Council and the city’s two universities, working together to tackle disadvantage.

Student voice is a key part of the partnership, there are active Student Partnership Board representatives from all partner schools. They contribute to decision making on projects and create activities for the partnership to undertake.

I had the pleasure of speaking with some of these students at the event yesterday, they showed the pop-up exhibition, showcasing the work from their schools.

It was encouraging to see the positivity and passion these young people had towards the current climate and ecological crises. They were empowered to make a difference in their communities, the city and in the curriculum.

I enjoyed hearing about the diverse range of projects happening at schools across Bristol, including how Orchard have rewilded some of their grounds and created a working garden and compost. How Fairfield’s eco team are working with Sustrans to encourage more walking and cycling to school, Cotham School’s wildlife conservation group, and St Brendan’s tree planting mission, which has already planted 60 trees.

One of the billboards showing the schools work towards net zero.

At the event I was joined by Jonathan Clear, the Department for Education’s Chief Sustainability Officer, who was clearly impressed with the work of the Bristol Education Partnership. He said “I’d like to say a huge thank you to you all, it’s clear Bristol is doing so much as a community, it’s inspiring to the rest of the country. I was blown away talking to you school leaders, and how much they care about the students and the planet, it gives me a huge amount of faith”

Bristol’s Dr Mya-Rose Craig, the superb environmental activist and author ‘Birdgirl’, spoke to the students via video link from her university, telling the young people “keep doing what you’re doing, your voices will be heard, you can and will make a difference”.

The Bristol Education Partnership is one of a small number of state/independent partnerships across the country. This work is innovative in encouraging collaboration across the two sectors – with staff and students working together at many different levels, leveraging extensive support from university partners. 

The climate challenge and other projects run by the BEP has attracted well known speakers and visitors from across the UK and from overseas. Yesterday we were joined by representatives from the University of Bristol, Centre for Sustainable Energy, Resource Futures, Sustainable Hive, Sustrans and more.

As the first local authority to declare a climate emergency, we’re leading the way nationally in a commitment to net zero. The One City Climate Strategy was developed to tackle both the climate and ecological crisis together, as a city. It was truly inspiring to watch this collaboration between key partners in the city and see the fruition of work from the partnership.

I want to extend my thanks to all the students and teachers, schools and partners in the Bristol Education Partnership for sharing their ideas, and for their continued work to make their schools net zero. I also want to thank Burges Salmon for the support they have showed for the event, it has been a great success for all the students and partners.

More Information:

Read more about the Bristol Education Partnership

Find out what other climate action the council is taking

Get inspired to take climate action at the Bristol Climate Hub

Temple Quarter regeneration project picks up steam

We are seeing really exciting progress on one of Bristol’s most important regeneration areas, with plans to bring the historic train station at its heart into the 21st century.

When I last wrote about the Temple Quarter regeneration project back in June, I said the £95m of government funding the project had received would “kickstart” it after nearly a decade of preparation and planning. Now work is been happening at pace to deliver the first phase of the project, including new entrances at Temple Meads station, infrastructure and public realm improvements around the station.

The new Eastern Entrance will open into the University of Bristol’s Enterprise Campus, making the station more accessible, and will include welcoming public spaces for everyone to make use of and enjoy.

Combined with improvements to Station Approach and the surrounding areas, the project will create a world-class gateway to the West of England, set against the backdrop of Brunel’s historic Grade 1 listed station.

The concept image is of the new North Entrance, with people walking in and out of the station. With trees and buildings in the background.
How the North Entrance might look

My cabinet meeting this week will formally enter a collaboration agreement with the three Temple Quarter partners – Homes England, Network Rail and the West of England Combined Authority. While we’ve already been working together for some time, this agreement will formalise the relationship for the next phase as each partner takes on responsibility for different elements of delivery, working collectively towards the transformation of 130 hectares of central Bristol. New agreements will be put in place, enabling the council and Network Rail to receive and spend the funding given to the project by government, working through WECA, in June.

While this funding is for regenerating the areas in and around the station, we are also planning for the longer-term changes. Part of the agreement, and another benefit of the collaborative partnership approach, is that any income from land sales will be reinvested by the partners into later stages of the project in St Philip’s Marsh.

Because of our population growth, we know that many parts of Bristol will see a lot of change over the years to come. St Philip’s marsh will see even more than most, so it is important that we manage this dramatic change to get the best outcomes for existing residents and businesses.

A concept drawing of Temple Meads Midlands Shed View. the image shows the future Midlands Shed View with people walking through the station waiting areas.
Temple Meads Midlands Shed View

Works are soon to begin on Temple Island too. To enable new development here, brought forward by L&G and including homes, commercial space, and a much-needed conference centre for central Bristol, the council and its partners are preparing the site for development. You might have already seen workers dangling off the historic river wall to check its condition this summer. You can expect more activity on Temple Island in the coming weeks and months as the exciting plans begin to take shape.

Temple Quarter is one of the UK’s largest regeneration schemes, there is a lot to take in. Some changes will feel incremental, while others will be transformational in their scale and scope. As I wrote in my June blog, the size of our ambition at Temple Quarter highlights the importance of working in partnership with other public sector organisations, as well as continuing to work with the community to manage this transformational period of change to the benefit of as many people as possible.

We’ve been meeting community groups, business representatives and individuals to tell them more about the project and hear their early views on what we’re proposing. Temple Quarter is going to be a long process, with many smaller milestones along the way. We’ll be out there throughout, meeting with you, hearing your ideas, hopes and concerns, and bringing you all the latest news. We know the easiest way to understand something is to see it first-hand. We’re soon to start regular walking tours of the Temple Quarter sites. These will be open to all and will help to give a better idea of what change is proposed and where.

Sound interesting? You can sign up to hear more on the Temple Quarter website.

Welcoming wildlife home: St George Park Lake reopens

Councillor Ellie King, standing on the ramp of Bristol City Hall smiling.
Today’s guest blog is from Councillor Ellie King, cabinet member for public health and communities.

Making safe spaces for nature, and giving people better opportunities to learn more about our diverse ecosystem is so important for the health and wellbeing of the city.

Since 1970, 60 per cent of wild invertebrate and up to 76 per cent of insects have been lost globally. When we announced our Ecological Emergency in 2020, we committed to doing as much as we could to bring back this lost wildlife to communities in Bristol. Through investment in projects such as St George Park Lake, we hope to provide more habitats for animal and plant life to flourish in our city.

St George Park Lake has reopened to the public after restoration, repair and enhancement works. I am sure people will enjoy strolling around the lake and spotting all the changes and over time looking out for new wildlife who will make this their home.

The lake reopens after a £400,000 investment to restore the facilities for Bristol residents and visitors to enjoy, and to make improvements to benefit the local wildlife. The restoration has made the area more attractive for birds, bats, insects, frogs, and other wildlife as well as improving the ecology on the island in the lake, where the wildfowl nest and rear their young each year. The new boardwalk dipping platform will be a great place for children and school groups to get closer to nature and learn all about Bristol’s beautiful and diverse natural world.

Image of the newly refurbished St George Lake. The new pathway is visible on the right of the image.

Residents and visitors will notice a range of enhancements in and around the lake designed to improve accessibility for everyone and complement the natural environment. These include; completely new and safer pathways, a new amphitheatre area for outdoor performances, and new bird and bat boxes. Information boards about the history, biodiversity and ecology of the lake will also be installed by end of the year.

In the next couple of months planting will take place on the island to improve ground cover and add to the plant diversity for birds and pollinators. Fencing around the amphitheatre area will remain in place until the newly planted grass is fully established. A number of repairs have also been done behind the scenes to make sure this important Victorian lake can be enjoyed by future generations. These include strengthening the lake walls, desilting the lake, improving drainage and putting in new benches.

Newly refurbished St George Lake. In the foreground of the image is the new pathway.

The silt removed from the lake was used to help build the new amphitheatre, but has also been used to create new natural wetland areas full of marginal and aquatic plant species where wildfowl, amphibious creatures and insects can thrive. Birds, bees, frogs, and pond micro-beasts, such as water-boatmen and pond-skaters will likely-benefit in the short-term, but in the future it is hoped, dragonflies, damselflies, newts, and bats too, will come to enjoy the new mini-wetland habitat.

To read more about how the council is managing our green spaces for the benefit of wildlife , visit the council’s website.

The Climate Smart Cities Challenge Winners Announced

Jessie Hayden smiling in front of a brick wall. Jessie is the projects and Policy Lead for Bristol Housing Festival.
Today’s guest blog is from Jessie Hayden, Projects and Policy Lead for Bristol Housing Festival

‘The challenge’ is city-based innovation competition to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Organised by UN-Habitat, technologists, businesses, and investors are invited to develop, test and scale cutting-edge solutions.

Bristol has been selected alongside Bogota in Colombia, Curitiba in Brazil, and Makindye Ssabagabo in Uganda. The focus of the Climate Smart Cities Challenge is to design a project at neighbourhood level that will showcase how cities can co-create new ideas together with innovators that make cities more sustainable and climate smart.

Team Thriving Places was announced as Bristol’s winning team for the international Climate Smart Cities Challenge on the 28th September in a celebratory online event. Zoe Metcalfe, director at engineering consultants Atkins, a member of the Thriving Places team, said Bristol was well-placed to benefit from winning the global competition given its proactive approach to achieving net zero targets.

The initiative presented the opportunity to invite global innovators and technologists to work on one of the city’s key challenges: developing an economic model for affordable, energy-efficient homes. This challenge was identified by Bristol City Council, Bristol One City and Bristol Housing Festival as one that if solved, could give significant momentum to the city’s priority to tackle the climate and ecological crises and the housing crisis. It will focus on developing brownfield sites in the city that have been considered unviable, and yet may hold the key to unlocking hundreds of energy-efficient, carbon neutral, affordable homes.

At the heart of the winning team is EDAROTH (Everybody Deserves A Roof Over Their Head), a wholly owned subsidiary of Atkins that provides energy efficient homes using carbon neutral, modern methods of construction. The core team also includes Igloo Regeneration, a leading UK responsible real estate business which funds, delivers and animates great places and the Bristol-based, award winning housing association Brighter Places, which delivers better places and inclusive homes. The team will work with the city, investors, and other partners to demonstrate new pathways and capabilities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, while also contributing to nature restoration, social justice, health, security, employment, and other societal benefits.

45 finalists were chosen in January 2022, and now the winning teams will share up to 400,000 euro to develop their ideas in a planning phase to build towards demonstrating their solutions in the cities in 2023, with the ultimate aim of creating solutions that will create better futures in cities around the world.

A leaflet announcing the winners of the Climate Smart Cities Challenge. On the right of the image is a circle with an image of a city inside. Orange text reads Bogota - Bristol - Curitiba - Makindye Ssabagabo, Meet the Climate Smart Cities Challenge Winners! September 28 17:00 CET online event register now!

Bristol was the first U.K. authority to declare a climate emergency and have since declared ecological emergency in response to the local decline of wildlife, a sign of Mayor Marvin Rees’s commitment to see Bristol lead the way in this space.

The winner’s announcement comes a few weeks before L&G Modular homes officially launch their Bristol development Bonnington Walk in Lockleaze, which was awarded an Excellent rating under the Building with Nature certifcation, and a few months after the Mayor chose to protect wildlife site Novers Hill from planned development. As the built environment is responsible for 25% of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions, the Climate Smart Cities Challenge is an important piece of Bristol’s puzzle and one that will continue to create the momentum needed to reach its ambitious goals.

Stay updated on the Climate Smart Cities Challenge here.

Bristol’s Clean Air Zone: two month countdown

There’s only two months to go until Bristol’s Clean Air Zone launches on 28 November.

The image has a blue background, a green van with a question mark sits in the bottom left of the picture. On the right of the image a calendar with text reads November, Monday 28. White text at the top of the image reads Two months to go... Are you ready for Bristol's Clean Air Zone? Bottom right of the image text reads Clean Air for Bristol. With the Bristol City Council logo.

This is an important step on our journey to cleaner air and creating a healthier future for everyone in Bristol. We need to reduce harmful pollution in the city and reach the legal limits set by government in the shortest time possible, but we also want to give those who need it, a bit more time to prepare. That could mean upgrading or changing a vehicle or trying out different and more sustainable ways to travel instead.

That’s why I’m pleased to announce that today the online application portal for temporary exemptions is open.

It’s estimated that over 71% of vehicles on our roads are already compliant, so many of you will NOT need to make an application for a temporary exemption. Anyone who is still unsure if they will be affected should visit the government’s online vehicle checker in the first instance, to check if they will be charged to drive in the zone.

If you find your vehicle doesn’t meet the emissions standards, then you may be able to apply for a temporary exemption if:

  • you live within the Clean Air Zone
  • you work within the Zone and earn less than £26,000 per year
  • you meet one of the exemption criteria
  • and you need some extra time to replace or upgrade your vehicle

All the information, including the full list of exemption criteria, is available on the council’s website. These exemptions are being offered on a temporary basis, to give people a bit more time to prepare for the Clean Air Zone. I urge people to check the individual exemption pages on our website for information on when they end. If you need further support or have questions about your individual circumstance, please email cazsupport@bristol.gov.uk

If you run a business that operates more than one vehicle and are planning ahead to the launch of the Clean Air Zone, you might also want to check out the Business Accounts Feature which is now open. This allows you to set up a Bristol-specific Direct Debit to help you manage payment for vehicles entering and exiting the Zone. For more information, visit the Government website.

The photo shows Bristol's clean air zone signs. The grey sign has a circle emblem at the top, with a half green half white cloud with the letter D. Red text boxes below read Bristol Clean Air Zone, Coming soon, charges will apply. CleanAirForBristol.org, underneath is a white sign showing there are cameras nearby.

As well as offering temporary exemptions to give people more time to transition to cleaner vehicles, we have also secured over £5.9 million to help people to make their journeys more sustainable. Active travel not only helps to keep our air clean, but it can also help us to feel good and improve our mental wellbeing.

Our free active travel offer scheme offers people:

  • bike and e-bike trials for up to one month
  • adult cycle training to help build your confidence 
  • VOI eScooter credit 
  • train vouchers
  • taster bus tickets
  • enterprise car club credit
  • a free travel planning session to help you explore all your options for your regular journeys

We’ve already given out over 2,000 active travel offers to people in Bristol, and you can read about people’s experiences on our Clean Air For Bristol blog. It’s really great to see people already embracing new ways of travelling around our beautiful city and helping us to create a healthier city with cleaner air for all.

I know that the launch date is fast approaching, but I also want everyone to know that there’s still plenty of time to prepare and seek out extra support if you need it.