Bristol City Council is required to implement a Clean Air Zone (CAZ). They have announced the options they are considering and are expected to announce a final decision by the end of 2018.
The aim of the scheme is to achieve compliance with the maximum permitted annual average level of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) in all areas of Bristol. The scheme will not deal with other pollutants such as PMs, but like NO2 most of these come from vehicles so addressing NO2 should help with overall pollution levels. The scheme will only aim to reduce pollution to within the legal maximum - it won’t bring us clean and healthy air but it’s a step in the right direction.
What are the options?
- ● As shown on the map below, the CAZ may cover a "small" area: the city centre (from the Bear Pit to Hotwells). Or it may cover a "medium area" which cuts through Bishopston and includes Gloucester Road up as far as Bishopston Library and most of St Andrews. It’s important to remember that this is a draft of the boundaries and changes may be made.
- ● There may be a charge for all vehicles (including older private cars) driving in the CAZ. Or the charge may only charge larger and commercial vehicles (vans, lorries and buses). Newer cars would be exempt from charges: diesel vehicles registered after 2014, petrol vehicles registered after 2006 and electric vehicles.
- ● There is another alternative which is a non-charging CAZ. A set of new regulations would come into force within a certain geographical area (likely to be the same as the medium zone on the map below). The details of these regulations are yet to be confirmed but could include: a ban on vehicle idling; tighter emissions standards for taxis; a ban on diesel cars in the worst areas; measures to support cycling, car clubs, buses; restrictions on goods vehicles at peak times; variable parking tariffs; optimised traffic signals; bus priority schemes; subsidised/free bus travel; targeted traffic management in certain areas. It’s hard to judge the fifth option because we don’t yet know which of these measures will be included.
Some details have been covered by the Bristol Post
The likely timeline:
- ● September/October 2018: Consultants complete their analysis of the five scheme options and report their findings to the Mayor. Details are unlikely to be made public.
- ● Bristol City Council is obliged to select and implement the scheme which will achieve compliance in the shortest time. Compliance means reducing annual average nitrogen dioxide levels to within the legal maximum. Emphasis here on “annual” - each scheme will be predicted to achieve compliance in a particular calendar year. If more than one of the schemes meet the target in the same year then the Mayor will have to choose between them, so this becomes a political decision and the opinion of voters will have some influence.
- ● December 2018: The Mayor is expected to announce the chosen scheme.
- ● Early 2019: public consultation on the chosen scheme, which may lead to minor changes or to measures to help reduce the impact on particular groups. The consultation is not expected to result in significant changes to the scheme which has been chosen.
- ● 2019 onwards: Detailed planning and implementation. All of the scheme options will require public information campaigns and infrastructure such as road signage, automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) cameras and payment/ billing systems. As the scheme launches, the council is will be watching air pollution levels carefully to see whether all areas are in line to meet the target in the time predicted. If not there are likely to be tweaks that can be made to the scheme, such as levels of charges and fines, operating hours, levels of subsidies.
- ● 2021: Rumour has it that “the scheme which will achieve compliance in the shortest time” might achieve this in the calendar year 2021.
- ● Once compliance has been achieved the scheme is likely to remain in place to ensure that air pollution doesn’t increase again. Beyond that any further changes are likely to depend on the national and local political climate at the time.
The possible impact on Bishopston:
- ● If the plan works we should benefit from cleaner air. It's hard to know whether the "small" zone would make much difference to Bishopston as it's over a mile away. Many of the most congested parts of Bishopston are currently well above the pollution threshold. For the scheme to succeed all areas of the city must be within the threshold. There’s a risk that pollution outside the zone could get worse as drivers try to avoid the zone or park just outside it.
- ● If the "medium" zone is implemented then some vehicles may be deterred from driving in through Bristol but others may avoid the CAZ going around it which may lead to rat-runs through residential areas. Others may park just outside the CAZ. Parts of Bishopston are just outside the zone so we may see an increase in dirtier vehicles. For example, drivers might use Egerton Road and Arundel Road to avoid the CAZ or might park there and walk to the shops.
- ● Traders on Gloucester Road may fear that a CAZ would take away some of their customers. On the other hand, customers may have second thoughts about frequenting Gloucester Road as they become more aware of the current levels of air pollution.
- ● Residents within the CAZ may find that they're liable for charges every day they start their car, but without the CAZ they may find that the health of their family suffers and their neighbourhood becomes less desirable.
- ● Other factors such as the Filton Airfield development (“Cribbs-Patchway New Neighbourhood”), the scrapping of Severn Bridge tolls and the possible Filton arena might increase the levels of traffic in our area, or “suppressed demand” from these developments might replace any reduction in journeys delivered by the clean air zone measures.
- ● Charges for vehicles in the CAZ or increased parking charges would have the highest impact on the poorest drivers (arguably not on the very poorest people as they can’t afford a car at all). The Mayor will be well aware of this and may chose regulations over charges; if not then within Bishopston the impact is likely to be felt most by those who can least afford it. Owners of chargeable vehicles living within the CAZ will be liable for the charge every day that they drive, unless they can park outside the CAZ."
- ● The CAZ is focused on vehicles. It's unlikely to include any measures to reduce pollution from wood burners or other domestic or commercial sources, although it's possible that the council will improve enforcement of existing smoke control regulations.
Bristol City Council has started awareness campaigns and has a dedicated website for Clean Air for Bristol at https://www.cleanairforbristol.org The Council is however keen to hear how air pollution and the options under consideration will impact us, and any specific suggestions relating to the proposed options. Email them: and please also let the Clean Air Bishopston team know your hopes and concerns for air quality and the CAZ in Bishopston at CAB