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CLEAN AIR ZONE: CAZ approved

CLEAN AIR ZONE: CAZ approved

Option 1: A Clean Air Zone covering a small area of central Bristol where older, more polluting commercial vehicles and polluting private cars would pay to drive in the zone. Source: Bristol City Council.

Bristol will finally get its long-awaited Clean Air Zone next summer.

City mayor Marvin Rees has confirmed the scheme has received the backing of the Government and will definitely be introduced in the summer of 2022.

Designed to curb traffic air pollution, the Clean Air Zone will see older, more polluting vehicles – an estimated 75,000 a day – charged to enter a small zone in the city centre.

The council estimates that about three in 10 vehicles in Bristol will attract the charges, which were set at £9 for smaller vehicles and £100 a day for larger vehicles in the plans it submitted.

But the authority says it will help people switch to greener modes of transport using £42million of government funding to pay for a variety of initiatives, such as electric bike loans, free bus tickets and upgrades to cleaner vehicles.

A range of exemptions will also be available.

The news comes four years after the Government ordered Bristol City Council to reduce the city’s toxic NO2 levels to within legal limits as quickly as possible.

The Clean Air Zone is expected to bring those levels down to legal levels in 2023.

Which vehicles will be charged?

Polluting private cars, taxis and vans will be charged £9 a day to enter the zone, while polluting buses, coaches and lorries will be charged £100 a day, according to the plans submitted to the Government in February of this year.

These charges were not confirmed in a council press release announcing the news about the Clean Air Zone today (November 5), and neither was an exact date for the introduction of the scheme.

The charges will not apply to petrol vehicles that meet Euro 4, 5 and 6 emission standards (those dating from roughly 2006 onwards) or to Euro 6 diesel vehicles (those roughly the end of 2015 onwards).

Help for individuals and businesses

The council said the following measures will be in place to help more individuals and businesses switch to cleaner ways of travelling:

  • £5.9m will be spent on helping people switch to public transport and make more journeys by walking or cycling with free bus tickets, free electric bike loans and cycle training.
  • A £2m freight consolidation project will be set up to help businesses switch to greener ways of transporting goods and meet the council’s target of 95 per cent of all city centre deliveries made by zero-emission vehicles within ten years.
  • £2.1m of funding has been allocated to help local bus and coach companies.
  • £32m for businesses to upgrade HGVs, LGVs, taxis and private hire vehicles.
  • £1.8m of loans and grants will be available to help people on low incomes, or those travelling to work/study in the zone, who need to upgrade their vehicles to meet the zone’s emission standards.

Exemptions

A range of exemptions will be available to give eligible businesses and individuals time to prepare for the zone.

All residents in the zone with a vehicle that would be charged can apply for an exemption giving them until the end of 2022 to upgrade to a cleaner vehicle.

Exemptions will be available for the groups including:

  • people on low incomes (earning up to £27,000 a year) who have to travel into the zone for work
  • patients and visitors to hospitals in the zone
  • Blue Badge holders and people with a disabled tax class vehicle or disabled passenger tax class vehicle
  • community transport providers operating under a Section 19 permit
  • people with commercial vehicles subject to finance agreements
  • council-funded buses, minibuses or coaches used as home-to-school vehicles
  • families who receive Personal Travel Budgets who travel through the zone on their school route.

Long time coming

After numerous delays, the council submitted its final plans for a Clean Air Zone to central government in February this year.

Mr Rees has said a number of times that he is committed to reducing air pollution but wanted to minimise any disproportionate impact on businesses and citizens, especially those on low incomes.

An earlier plan to ban diesel cars from the city centre was rejected by the Government.


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