Older cars facing £9 Clean Air Zone charge to drive into central Bristol from next summer

November 05 2021
Older cars facing £9 Clean Air Zone charge to drive into central Bristol from next summer

OLDER cars, vans and taxis will be charged to drive into the centre of Bristol when the city's Clean Air Zone is introduced next summer.

Mayor Marvin Rees has confirmed the scheme has received the backing of the Government and will definitely be introduced in 2022.

Designed to curb traffic air pollution, the Clean Air Zone will see older, more polluting vehicles – an estimated 75,000 of which currently enter the CAZ area each day – charged to enter a small zone in the city centre.

The council estimates that about three in 10 vehicles in Bristol will attract the charges, which were set at £9 for smaller vehicles and £100 a day for larger vehicles in the plans it submitted.

It says the charges will apply to "only older and more polluting vehicles" and would not be paid by owners of vehicles with Euro 4, 5 and 6 petrol engines, made from around 2006 onwards, or with Euro 6 diesel engines, sold from around the end of 2015 onwards.

The CAZ (shaded on the map above) includes Broadmead, Cabot Circus, the Centre, Temple Quay and Spike Island, with older vehicles set to be charged to use Bond Street, Temple Way, Marlborough Street, Hotwell Road, Brunel Way, Coronation Road, York Road and Bath Road below the Three Lamps junction.

The authority says it will help people switch to greener modes of transport using £42 million of government funding to pay for a variety of initiatives, such as electric bike loans, free bus tickets and upgrades to cleaner vehicles.

Exemptions will also be available to some drivers, including:

*People on incomes of £27,000 or below who have to travel into the zone for work

*Patients and visitors to hospitals in the zone

*Blue Badge holders and people with a disabled or disabled passenger tax class vehicle  *Community transport providers

*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.

It is four years since the government ordered the city council to reduce the city’s toxic NO2 levels to within legal limits as quickly as possible.

The CAZ is expected to bring those pollutants down to legal levels in 2023. 

Plans submitted to the government in February included charges of £9 a day for older private cars, taxis and vans entering the zone, while older buses, coaches and lorries will be charged £100 a day.

These charges were not confirmed in a council press announcement confirming that the CAZ had been approved – neither was an exact date for the introduction of the scheme.

The council says it will being in measures to help more individuals and businesses switch to cleaner ways of travelling, including:

*£5.9m 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 £2m freight consolidation project to help businesses switch to greener ways of transporting goods and meet the council’s target of 95 per cent of all city centre deliveries made by zero-emission vehicles within ten years.

*£2.1m of funding to help local bus and coach companies.

*£32m for businesses to upgrade HGVs, LGVs, taxis and private hire vehicles.

*£1.8m of loans and grants to help people on low incomes, or those travelling to work/study in the zone to upgrade their vehicles to meet the zone’s emission standards.

All residents in the zone with a vehicle that would be charged can apply for an exemption giving them until the end of 2022 to upgrade to a cleaner vehicle.

Mr Rees has said a number of times that he is committed to reducing air pollution but wanted to minimise any disproportionate impact on businesses and citizens, especially those on low incomes.

He 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.”

An earlier plan to ban all diesel cars from the city centre was rejected by the Government.

By Amanda Cameron, Local Democracy Reporting Service