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Clean air zones – what should the options be for Bristol?


Bristol Green Capital Partnership’s chief executive, Ian Townsend, expressed support for ongoing work on an effective clean air zone for the city at a Council Cabinet meeting on 15 August.

A clean air zone could see high-polluting vehicles charged for entering the city, and would have a very positive affect on the quality of air in Bristol.

Four options for a possible Bristol clean air zone had been recommended to Cabinet for further assessment. This would involve more detailed analysis of traffic flows and social and economic impacts, under a central government-funded feasibility study.

These options would cover either all vehicles or all except cars, either for a central zone or the ‘air quality management area’, which covers the inner-city centre and major routes into and out of the city. These are the areas where the effects of poor air quality are most acutely felt. Following this more detailed analysis, there will be a public consultation on the options.

The decision on the options for the next stage of the study was postponed due to legal issues raised by environmental lawyers Client Earth about how the options had been arrived to. The Mayor said he would seek guidance from central government on the points raised to ensure the Council’s approach was sound, then bring the issue back to a future Cabinet meeting

Despite the postponement, members of the public and councillors were asked to make statements at the meeting. Ian highlighted some key points from the Bristol Green Capital Partnership statement on clean air zones, which:

  • supports a clean air zone as part of the solution to air pollution;
  • supports the options proposed for further research;
  • calls for an option of a zone covering the whole of the Bristol urban area be included in the detailed analysis, as this has the largest positive health impacts; and
  • calls for creative options to be considered to address any potential economic impact on low income groups.

The Partnership supports the deferral of the decision, which will ensure the consultation is legally sound. This postponement also offers an opportunity to reconsider the options and include an ‘urban area’ option in the next stage of assessment.

A clean air zone presents an opportunity to address the dangerously high levels of air pollution in Bristol, to ensure it is a healthier, more environmentally sustainable city with a high quality of life for all. We will continue to engage in this important process, and encourage our Partnership member organisations to do so, including during the public consultation.

If your group or organisation is interested in air quality, please let us know by emailing so we can keep you updated on related activity and events.

You can watch the full Cabinet clean air zones item here (with reference to the legal issues here).

More information about the meeting and supporting papers for the item are here.

Information about future Bristol City Council Cabinet and meetings can be found here (papers for meeting are usually published around 7 days ahead of meetings).

See more about Client Earth’s air pollution work here.

Transport, News & Information, Air quality
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