What is Bristol City Council doing about it?

Bristol has been successful at improving walking, cycling and bus patronage in recent years, but traffic levels have remained constant and pollution has not declined as fast as predicted.

Bristol’s Clean Air Plan

In order to clean up Bristol’s air quickly, Bristol is developing a clean air plan in line with government guidance (the treasury “green book”) in three stages. The three stages are business cases that must be approved by both BCC and the Joint Air Quality Unit (JAQU). The first business case (Strategic Outline Case or SOC) was approved by BCC and JAQU in March 2018. The key documents are available for download. The SOC recommended five packages of measures to take forward for further study. The packages of measures are:

  1. Package of 16 complementary measures
  2. Medium sized Clean Air Zone  C (charging vehicles excluding cars) with 12 complementary measures
  3. Medium sized Clean Air Zone  D (charging vehicles including cars) with 11 complementary measures
  4. Small sized Clean Air Zone  C (charging vehicles excluding cars) with 12 complementary measures
  5. Small sized Clean Air Zone  D (charging vehicles including cars) with 11 complementary measures

Four of the options include a “charging” CAZ where vehicles could be charged for entering a small or medium sized zone. Class C is all vehicles excluding cars, Class D is all vehicles. No decision has been taken on which option will be implemented as this is what the technical work will determine.

The next business case (Outline Business Case or OBC) will report during 2019 and will be subject to Cabinet approval. The OBC will identify the preferred scheme or schemes.

Charging vehicles could be needed because despite the measures listed below, the air quality remains unacceptable in many locations and is damaging health.

Current Initiatives to Improve Air Quality

Bristol has worked with bus operators to clean up the bus fleet. Bristol was recently awarded £2.2m for cleaning up buses in the regional fleet. BCC also ensures its own fleet of vehicles is clean, by using electric pool cars, some electric vans, some other ultra-low emission vehicles (ULEVs) and providing training for drivers. We are working with providers to increase the number of EV charge points and the Metrobus programme will enable residents to leave the car at home and use a clean, high quality rapid transit service.

Bristol has also planted 50,000 trees. It is possible these will have a small positive impact on air quality but it is likely this will be too small to measure.

Other transport interventions that will improve air quality are listed below.

  • The MetroWest project will improve existing rail provision across the sub-region, including the opening of new stations and increased frequency on local lines.
  • Large-scale investment in walking and cycling through the Cycle Ambition Fund which is creating new routes and improving existing infrastructure.
  • MetroBus, a rapid public transport system that will provide an express service to key destinations in the area using a combination of segregated busways and lanes, will use low emission vehicles.
  • Ensuring the council fleet vehicles are modernised to reduce pollution by replacing out of date diesel vehicles. This being supported by a £7 million project to provide over 200 more public and business charging points across the city region. It will also enable people to buy new electric cars with confidence that they can charge them.
  • Increasing the proportion of electric pool cars available for council employees to use on city trips.
  • Changes to Taxi Licencing Policy to improve taxi fleet emissions.

However these actions are not sufficient to bring the city to legal compliance. For this reason there is a legal obligation to look at developing a Clean Air Zone for Bristol.

Useful links