Bristol City Council has approved plans to ban all diesel cars from a small area of the city centre between 7am and 3pm
Bristol has become the first UK city to vote in favour of imposing a ban on diesel cars in a small area of the city centre during the day.
Under plans ratified by Bristol City Council, privately owned diesel cars will be forbidden from entering part of the city between the hours of 7am and 3pm in a bid to combat poor air quality. Drivers who breach these rules will face a fine.
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A wider clean air zone will also cover a larger area of the city. This will not affect privately owned cars of any fuel type, but diesel-powered lorries, vans, buses and taxis will be made to pay a fee. Taxis and vans will be charged £9 per day, while HGV operators will have to pay £100.
The proposals are subject to approval from central Government, after which the council hopes to put the ban and the clean air zone into force from 2021. It will be enforced by ANPR – Automatic Number Plate Recognition – cameras, but details of how much the fines will be and which vehicles will be exempt are yet to be decided.
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 are 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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