Bristol City Council is proposing a small-scale diesel ban in a bid to reduce pollution in the centre of the city.

The council’s cabinet has been asked to approve a Clean Air Zone plan that alongside the diesel ban would seek to introduce a larger charging zone for non-compliant commercial vehicles, including vans, however, cars would be exempt from the CAZ.

If approved by the council’s cabinet on 5 November and then by the Government, the plan would be rolled-out by March 2021.

Mayor of Bristol, Marvin Rees, said: “These ambitious plans demonstrate our commitment to tackling air pollution so we meet legal limits within the shortest time, without disproportionally 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.”

Diesel fill up image

If approved by the cabinet, an Outline Business Case will be submitted to the Joint Air Quality Unit (JAQU) on Wednesday 6 November, with the council and JAQU preparing a Full Business Case for submission next year. As part of the Full Business Case, there will be direct engagement with all businesses and residents affected to help manage implementation, including details of mitigations measures and exemptions, the council added.

Responding to the plans, Chris Yarsley, the Freight Transport Association’s policy manager for the South West of England, said: “The FTA is calling for Bristol City Council to provide clarification on its proposals for Clean Air Zone in 2021; the lack of detail is alarming and leaves local businesses in the dark on how to proceed with business planning. FTA is particularly concerned about proposals for a ‘diesel vehicle ban’ in the city centre. Will the ban operate at peak hours or 24/7? While previous consultations only discussed a ban on cars, it is now unclear whether lorries and vans will also be included. If so, how does the council expect goods to be delivered to supermarkets, businesses and homes? There are currently no viable alternatives to diesel-run lorries. Furthermore, the proposed scrappage scheme appears to only be open to residents of private cars – what help will be provided to commercial vehicle operators and those who need LCVs for their jobs, including self-employed business people?”