Bristol first city in UK to introduce ban on diesel cars in centre

Bristol has become the first city in the UK to introduce a diesel ban for private cars in the city centre and Harbourside area.

The plans to reduce air pollution were approved by Bristol City Council’s Cabinet yesterday (5 November) – and will now be submitted to the government.

The ban would operate daily from 7am to 3pm and there would also be a wider Clean Air Zone (CAZ) which extends from the city centre where older commercial vehicles such as buses, taxis and lorries would be charged.

A car scrappage scheme would also be launched under the plans – along with improvements to public transport to reduce reliance on cars and increase the number of bus users.

Measures would also include a ring of park and rides around the city in areas such as the M32.

The council is under a legal obligation to improve air quality in Bristol by lowering Nitrogen Dioxide NO2 levels to within legal limits as quickly as possible.

But the city has twice missed government deadlines for providing details of a clean air zone. It is hoped the new plans will help it reach compliance by 2025.

Bristol Mayor, Marvin Rees, said: “These ambitious plans demonstrate our commitment to tackling air pollution so we meet legal limits within the shortest time, without disproportionally affecting citizens on lower incomes which would happen with a blanket approach to charging vehicles.

“Protecting the most vulnerable people from pollution is central to these plans and we have ensured that all impacts have been carefully considered. If approved, mitigation measures will support those most affected, especially those living in the most deprived communities.”

The Online Business Case will now be considered by the government’s Joint Air Quality Unit (JAQU).

The council will work closely with JAQU on preparing the full business case for submission next year.

As part of this it will be engaging with affected business, organisations and residents to help manage how the Clean Air and Diesel Ban areas can be implemented, including “details of mitigations, measures and exemptions.”

If approved by the government the deadline for the plans to be put in place is March 2021.