The government has backed Bristol’s plans to clean up the city’s air, including a raft of measures to help citizens adapt to the change.
A Clean Air Zone will launch next summer enabling Bristol to meet clean air targets in 2023 with £42m of government funding available for greener transport initiatives, for example electric bike loans, free bus tickets, and upgrades to cleaner vehicles.
One of a number of towns and cities mandated by the government to tackle air pollution, Bristol Mayor Marvin Rees is committed to reducing air pollution but was also adamant that he would minimise any disproportionate impact on businesses and citizens.
Mayor Rees said:
“This is a real win for the city. We are introducing one of the most wide-ranging clean air zones in the UK which will see us not only reduce air pollution but also help people change how they travel, delivering a cleaner, greener and healthier city for years to come.
“We are tackling a climate emergency, but we also have people facing financial crisis. We can’t look at these two things in isolation. We have taken our time to find a way to clean up our air while not adding huge financial strain to people that live and work in our city.”
While around 71 per cent of vehicles in Bristol are already compliant so won’t have to pay to enter the zone, the approved plan includes significant measures to reduce pollution in the city and meet clean air targets by helping more individuals and businesses switch to cleaner ways of travelling:
- £5.9 million will be spent on helping people switch to public transport and make more journeys by walking or cycling with free bus tickets, free electric bike loans and cycle training
- A £2 million freight consolidation project will be set up to help businesses switch to greener ways of transporting goods and meet the council’s target of 95% of all city centre deliveries made by zero-emission vehicles within 10 years
- £2.1 million of funding has been allocated to help local bus and coach companies
- £32 million for businesses to upgrade HGVs, LGVs, taxis and private hire vehicles. £1.8 million of loans and grants will be available to help people on low incomes, or those traveling to work/study in the zone, that need to upgrade their vehicles to meet the zone’s emission standards
A range of exemptions will be available to give eligible businesses and individuals time to prepare for the zone. All residents in the zone with a vehicle that doesn’t meet its emission standards can apply for an exemption giving them until the end of 2022 to upgrade their vehicle.
Exemptions will be available for groups including:
- people on low incomes travelling into the zone for work
- patients and visitors to hospitals in the zone
- Blue Badge holders and people with a disabled tax class vehicle or disabled passenger tax class vehicle
- community transport providers operating under a Section 19 permit
- people with commercial vehicles subject to finance agreements
- council-funded buses, minibuses or coaches used as Home to School vehicles
- families who receive Personal Travel Budgets who travel through the zone on their school route