Bristol City Council had wanted to avoid forcing drivers of polluting vehicles to pay to enter a CAZ following lower air pollution due to the Covid-19 pandemic and changes in driving behaviour. However, Bristol’s Mayor confirmed the charge is necessary to achieve compliance.
Mayor Marvin Rees said: “This is in line with our moral responsibility to deliver clean air in the shortest possible time.”
The mayor said there were several qualifications to the new measure. He continued: “We have always said a charging zone is a blunt instrument. We want to work with behaviour change.
“We are concerned about the potential unintended consequences of charging on household and business income particularly at this time of financial challenge for so many.
“So, what we are going to do is, as well as taking action to deliver that compliance, we will be looking at how we can support people through that transition.
“This will hit the pockets of households and businesses within Bristol.”
The proposed zone is referred to as ‘small CAZ D’ as it covers a small area of central Bristol where older, more polluting commercial vehicles and polluting private cars will pay to drive. It was one of two options the council had been required by government deadlines to consult on for a Clean Air Zone, the other being a ‘medium CAZ C’ which would be a larger charging zone with a fee imposed on polluting commercial vehicles but not private cars.
Whitehall has ordered the local authority to find the fastest way to get Bristol’s air pollution to within legal limits.
The CAZ plans will go before the Bristol City Council cabinet in February before formal submission to Government.