Bristol Clean Air Zone – What businesses need to do now
Bristol’s controversial clean air plans are one step closer to becoming a reality after they were approved by the city’s ruling Labour administration on November 5.
If the plans are adopted unchanged, all privately owned diesel vehicles will be banned from the city centre between 7am and 3pm from March 2021.
And commercial vehicles, such as buses and taxis, that do not meet emission standards would have to pay a charge of either £9 or £100 a day to enter a clean air zone (CAZ).
The council has not decided yet on a penalty for breaching the diesel car ban but assumed a fine of £60 in its technical modelling work, cabinet heard.
The clean air plans have drawn broad support because of the urgent need to tackle air pollution, which is estimated to kill 300 Bristolians a year.
But many of the details have been criticised for the impact they would have on low-income families, hospital visitors, businesses in the centre and people living in areas outside the CAZ.
The Clean Air Zone is expected to apply to the central area of the city including part of the M32, the old city, Redcliffe, Spike Island, the Harbourside, and part of Hotwells. It take in Cumberland Basin to the west, Cabot Circus to the north east and Temple Quay and St Mary Redcliffe to the south west. Its north western border faces the Bristol Royal Infirmary and the Bristol Royal Children’s Hospital and its south eastern boundary runs past Bristol Temple Meads railway station.
A wider Clean Air Zone (CAZ) will extend further out from the city centre.
The scheme which still needs government approval is due to start in 2021.
What vehicles will be affected by the Clean Air Zones?
Local authorities can decide what level of restriction to apply.
There are four classes of Clean Air Zone:
1. Class A – Buses, coaches, taxis and private hire vehicles
2. Class B – Buses, coaches, taxis, PHVs and heavy goods vehicles (HGVs)
3. Class C – Buses, coaches, taxis, PHVs, HGVs and light goods vehicles (LGVs)
4. Class D – Buses, coaches, taxis, PHVs, HGVs LGVs and cars
Buses, coaches and HGVs that meet Euro VI emissions standards must be exempt from any charges or restrictions.
Cars, vans and taxis that meet Euro 6 (diesel) or Euro 4 (petrol) emissions standards must be exempt from any charges or restrictions.
Ultra-low emission vehicles with a significant zero-emission range must be exempt from and charges or restrictions.
How long will the CAZ last?
Bristol City Council is following Defra’s Clean Air Zone Framework to prepare the Clean Air Plan. Regarding the duration of a CAZ, the Framework states that:
‘Where air quality has improved to the level required and there is evidence that this improvement would be maintained, the Government expects local authorities to remove the elements of the zone that are no longer required at the earliest opportunity.’
What difference will a CAZ make to traffic levels?
The aim of the CAZ is to reduce NO2 concentrations within the city rather than reduce traffic levels. However, the CAZ may alter traffic from the present levels in the short term, as people adjust their travel choices.
The difference in traffic would depend on what type of CAZ is implemented i.e. there is likely to be more of an impact on traffic if all vehicles including cars (Class D) were charged compared to a Class A being charged.
Does the Diesel Ban Zone ban commercial lorries and vans? And if so, what weight of vehicle does it include?
No, commercial lorries and vans are not banned. If they are not compliant, they will have paid to enter the Clean Air Zone, and can move around in there, including the Diesel Ban Zone.
Charges for commercial vehicles should be tax deductible for businesses and traders.
Will diesel taxis and private hire vehicles be banned from the city centre?
Most taxis in Bristol are compliant. Those that are not complaint will need to pay a daily charge to enter the Clean Air Zone. They can then move anywhere in the zone, including the Diesel Ban Area.