Clean air matters

Clean air is our absolute priority. And clean air starts at home.

If we work together we can achieve a cleaner, safer Bristol for everyone.

Small and simple ways you can help

  • Try walking the kids to school as much as possible, but at least twice a week.
  • Limit use of wood burning stoves and don’t burn wood on an open fire.
  • Get the bus into the city centre.
  • Walk, cycle or get the bus whenever you can.
  • Recycle your waste. Never burn it.
  • Walk to the shops if you only need a few things.

If we start with small changes we can all make a big difference.

Bristol’s Clean Air Zone

The Government set legal limits for pollution and we have to introduce a Clean Air Zone (CAZ) to ensure Bristol meets those limits within the shortest possible time.

A major source of air pollution in cities is road traffic, particularly diesel engines. Air pollution affects everyone in Bristol, especially children, older people and those with heart, breathing and underlying health conditions.

In February 2021 the council’s cabinet approved the Full Business Case for our chosen CAZ which will now be submitted to Government. Our chosen option offers a balance between improving air quality and the need to support businesses as much as possible.

Government will confirm if they accept our Full Business Case in the spring. The earliest we would implement the CAZ is October 2021.

Charges

No vehicles are banned from entering the CAZ but older and more polluting vehicles will have to pay a daily charge. It is estimated over 71% of vehicles are already compliant and so only a minority of vehicles driving in the CAZ will be charged. In subsequent years this percentage will decrease as more people take advantage of the available financial support to switch to a cleaner vehicle or a different mode of transport.

  • Charges would not apply to Euro 4, 5 and 6 petrol vehicles (roughly 2006 onwards).
  • Charges would not apply to Euro 6 diesel vehicles (roughly end of 2015 onwards).

Support

We appreciate that the implementation of a charging CAZ will be a challenging transition for some residents and businesses. We will support those most impacted and are calling on the Government to provide the necessary funding to do this.

We’ll do what we can to support people who are most impacted by the CAZ, including low income workers and businesses and residents inside the zone.

We’ll share more information about exemptions and the financial support that will be in place to help people switch to a cleaner vehicle once our business case is approved in the spring.

Clean Air Zone: Frequently Asked Questions

A Clean Air Zone (CAZ) is a specific location where immediate action is taken to improve air quality and health.

It aims to reduce public exposure to nitrogen dioxide (NO2) by enforcing restrictions on the highest polluting vehicles to encourage use of cleaner vehicles and more sustainable travel choices.

Toxic fumes are harmful to our health. We are committed to cleaning up Bristol’s air so everyone can live and work in a healthy environment.

In Bristol we’re most concerned by nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and very small particulates. A major source of these pollutants in cities is road traffic, particularly diesel engines.

The council has a moral and legal duty to ensure the city’s air quality meets the legal limits of air pollution in the shortest possible time. This is a legal requirement and something we’ve been directed to do by government. There are specific areas within Bristol that have particularly poor air quality and it is our responsibility to correct this.

The Clean Air Zone is based on Bristol’s Air Quality Management Area (AQMA). The AQMA is a central area where approximately 100,000 people live and many more study, work and travel through. Harmful pollutants exceed EU and UK standards for annual and hourly levels in the AQMA.

The purpose of the Clean Air Zone is to improve air quality within the city in the shortest time by reducing harmful emissions from vehicles. The Small CAZ D boundary has been largely the same since the project began apart from changes made following our first consultation in 2019.

The council has a moral and legal duty to ensure the city’s air quality meets the legal limits of air pollution in the shortest possible time. This is a legal requirement and something we’ve been directed to do by government.

Our chosen Clean Air Zone, a Small CAZ D, is estimated to deliver compliance with legal limits for air pollution by 2023, much sooner than previous proposals.

Removing the Portway and the Cumberland Basin from the zone would affect the compliance date of the zone and mean the city would not meet the government’s legal requirements for clean air within the shortest time possible.

The size of the zone and its boundary has been determined by the need to drive improvements to the vehicle fleet so that air quality targets can be met in the central area where air quality is worst. The zone captures trips and encourages drivers and businesses to either update their vehicles, change their route, change their mode or not make the trip. The zone also needs to be large enough to capture a sufficient number of trips to quickly clean up the fleet.

No. If a vehicle has to travel into the zone as a result of an official diversion of traffic from a road outside the zone the vehicle will be treated as if it were a non-chargeable vehicle.

Parts of side roads are included in the zone. The roads are included to give drivers enough warning to avoid entering the zone before there is nowhere to turn around.

There will be advance signage on all roads leading into the zone to alert drivers that they are entering the Clean Air Zone and give them the opportunity to turn around and not enter.

The council will monitor the impact of the Clean Air Zone on roads outside the zone and address any localised issues caused by motorists attempting to avoid the paying the charge.

A congestion charge and a Clean Air Zone are related but are not the same.

Clean Air Zones are designed to improve air quality to meet legal requirements and focus on tackling the most polluting vehicles. Clean Air Zones don’t necessarily involve a charge.

A congestion charge does not distinguish between vehicles based on pollution. It aims to reduce the total number of vehicles on the road or within an area.

A Clean Air Zone may well impact on congestion but this is likely to only be in the short-term whilst motorists upgrade their vehicles are upgraded to cleaner models or people adjust their travel choices.

Our choice of Clean Air Zone is a Small CAZ D. It offers a balance between improving air quality and the need to support businesses as much as possible.

The council’s cabinet approved the Full Business Case for the CAZ in February 2021. We have submitted the Full Business Case to Government who will confirm if they accept it in the spring.

The Clean Air Zone would be implemented from October 2021. We estimate that it’d deliver compliance with legal limits for air pollution by 2023, much sooner than previous CAZ proposals.

We’ll share more information about exemptions and the financial support that will be in place to help people switch to a cleaner vehicle once government approve the Full Business Case for the CAZ.

You can use the government’s compliance checking tool to check if your vehicle would be charged to drive in Bristol’s Clean Air Zone (CAZ).

If the checker shows you’d pay a daily charge for Birmingham you will pay to drive your vehicle into Bristol’s CAZ.

Please note the government’s compliance checking tool is not provided by Bristol City Council. We are not responsible for the accuracy of any data provided. We recommend you recheck your vehicle before you drive in any Clean Air Zones.

Bristol’s CAZ will be added to the government checking tool once they have approved our Full Business Case.

To avoid being charged in any clean air zone, your vehicle must meet the government’s minimum standard for emissions:

Vehicle type Clean air zone minimum standard
Cars, vans, minibuses, taxis, private hire vehicles Euro 6 (diesel) and Euro 4 (petrol)
Buses, coaches, heavy goods vehicles Euro 6

No. We have no plans to introduce a diesel ban zone in Bristol and it is no longer an option.

Charges will be set at a level that would encourage people to change how they travel and improve air quality in the shortest possible time.

  • Charges would not apply to Euro 4, 5 and 6 petrol vehicles (roughly 2006 upwards)
  • Charges would not apply to Euro 6 diesel vehicles (roughly end of 2015 onwards

Charges would apply 24 hours a day, seven days a week to non-compliant (older, more polluting) models of each type of vehicle. Non-compliant vehicles will only be charged once in each 24 hour period.

  • Private petrol cars £9
  • Private diesel cars £9
  • Taxis £9
  • LGVs £9
  • HGVs £100
  • Buses £100
  • Coaches £100

If you live within the zone area and drive an older more polluting car you would only be charged if you made a journey.

The zone is designed to capture trips and encourage drivers and businesses to either update their vehicles, change their route, change their mode or not make the trip.

The zone is also designed to be large enough to capture a sufficient number of trips to quickly clean up the vehicles travelling into the city.

We estimate the zone will reduce the traffic travelling into the city centre by approximately 2,000 vehicles per day.

We’ve assessed the impact the zone will have on displaced traffic and pollution levels in surrounding roads. No roads had pollution levels in excess of the safe legal limit and most surrounding roads were some way below safe limits due to the knock-on benefits of people switching to cleaner vehicles across the whole network.

We’ll do what we can to support people who are most impacted by the Clean Air Zone, including low income workers and residents inside the zone.

We’ll share more information about exemptions and the financial support that will be in place to help people switch to a cleaner vehicle once our business case is approved in the spring.

The Clean Air Zone charges are collected by government who remove the costs of running the central system and return the remaining money to the council to cover the cost of running the Clean Air Zone. We will invest any surplus revenue in improving local transport and sustainable travel options.

We have developed the Clean Air Zone in line with government guidance on which vehicles should be charged. The government’s national framework identifies which vehicles (based on use, engine type and euro classification) can be subject to charges.  Our local modelling has determined which of these vehicles we need to charge in order to achieve compliance with the legal requirements in the shortest possible time.

Our focus is on achieving that compliance.  The council are not considering plans for changes to the Clean Air Zone once compliance has been achieved.

We are also developing a wider Clean Air Plan which will focus on action to reduce particulate pollution, especially from solid fuel burning, and respond to targets in the (now delayed) national Environment Act.

The layout and infrastructure in Bristol is not the same as Bath and both cities are affected by air pollution differently. In Bristol we have a problem with tall buildings which are like canyons that retain air pollution.

Bristol’s CAZ has been designed specifically for the city to improve air quality in the shortest time by reducing harmful emissions from vehicles.

In 2020 the Mayor of Bristol unveiled plans to accelerate existing transport ambitions to improve walking, cycling and bus journeys in the city centre and help Bristolians get around safely during the pandemic.

We are also continuing to work towards introducing a low-carbon, mass transit system that will transform the way our citizens move around.

The council is also currently consulting with communities on several proposals to reduce rat-running and improve air quality in neighbourhoods.

We are encouraging businesses to use freight consolidation which improves air quality by reducing petrol and diesel vehicle trips in the city centre.

We are also accelerating the purchase of electric vehicles through Go Ultra Low West project and installing public electric vehicle charge points as part of the Revive vehicle charging network.

We are raising awareness of the dangers of burning solid fuels in wood burners and calling on government for powers to tackle solid fuel burning, industrial pollution, and bring non-mobile construction equipment to compliant standards.

Read more about the council’s transport plans.

Bristol’s proposed Clean Air Zone

Small CAZ D - PDF