Bristol could ban all diesel cars from its city centre in 2021

Proposals would see diesel cars banned from Bristol city centre and a clean air zone introduced

All diesel cars could be banned from Bristol city centre from 2021 if plans proposed to the local authority are approved.

In a bid to improve local air quality, the cabinet of Bristol City Council is set to consider plans that would see all privately owned diesel vehicles banned from the city centre, as well as the introduction of a wider clean air zone where owners of non-compliant commercial vehicles – including buses, taxis, HGVs and LGVs – would be charged a fee for driving in the city.

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The plans will be put before the council at a cabinet meeting on 5 November. If approved, both the diesel ban and the clean air zone would come into effect from March 2021, making Bristol the first city in the UK to implement an outright ban on diesel cars.

Mayor of Bristol, Marvin Rees, commented: “These ambitious plans demonstrate our commitment to tackling air pollution so we meet legal limits within the shortest time, without disproportionately 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.”

Nicholas Lyes, head of roads policy at the RAC, pointed out the issues with the plans, though. “We recognise that efforts must be made to clean up the city’s air but as things stand, the impact of the proposals published today on people who currently drive diesel vehicles would be unprecedented.”

Lyes explained that major routes in, out and around the city would become “out of bounds, with diesel vehicles forced onto other roads, which risks causing congestion problems where they don’t exist at the moment.”

Addressing the practical issues of the scheme, Lyes continued: “Bristol has bold plans to improve its public transport system, but major improvements like its mooted rapid transit system or even more park and ride sites are still many years from becoming a reality. In the meantime, many drivers are faced with having to use their car for journeys in and around the city simply because there is no affordable, reliable alternatives. This would become more difficult under these plans.”

He added: “Some drivers of diesel cars who are locked into finance packages may face a significant penalty to exit their contract early. There will also be drivers of older vehicles who are faced with having to give up their vehicles and switch to something different – which could be extremely costly.”

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