Motorists to be charged to enter city centre

Motorists of older, more polluting vehicles will be charged to enter a Clean Air Zone in the city centre – Bristol Mayor Marvin Rees revealed this week.

Bristol City Council had wanted to avoid charging vehicles to pay to enter a Clean Air Zone (CAZ).

It hoped that changes to some of the city’s roads during the pandemic – to help social distancing and encourage walking and cycling – would satisfy government demands for improvements in air quality.

But Mayor Rees said during a Facebook Live on 13 January that charging would go ahead.

Bristol Mayor Marvin Rees during his Facebook Live on Wednesday 13 January.

The zone will cover a small area of central Bristol where older, more polluting commercial vehicles and private cars will have to pay a fee – known as a “small CAZ D”.

The other option the council looked at was a “medium CAZ C”, this would have been a larger zone where drivers of polluting commercial vehicles – but not private cars would be charged.

The government has told the council it has to get air pollution levels within legal limits in the shortest possible time.

The amount motorists will have to pay has not yet been announced – but the mayor said it “will hit the pockets of households and businesses within Bristol”.

He said: “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…”

A clean air scheme must be in place by October if the council is to comply with rules over nitrogen dioxide limits.