Bristol Clean Air Zone: With one month to go, has scheme worked elsewhere?

Bristol’s Clean Air Zone (CAZ) comes into effect in a month’s time, but are residents ready? Bristol City Council has reiterated its goal to improve air quality by charging older, more polluting vehicles for daily use of the city centre and main roads in and out of Bristol - citing a similar strategy used in Birmingham.

Bristol’s Clean Air Zone (CAZ) comes into effect in a month’s time, but are residents ready? Bristol City Council has reiterated its goal to improve air quality by charging older, more polluting vehicles for daily use of the city centre and main roads in and out of Bristol - citing a similar strategy used in Birmingham.

Birmingham’s Clean Air Zone went live in June 2021 to reduce traffic-related pollution. In a website post noting the Bristol CAZ will be introduced in a month’s time, on November 28, the authority links a report into its Birmingham counterpart’s primlimiary findings which show “from the launch of the Clean Air Zone the average rate of compliance for all vehicle categories has increased from 79.8% at the beginning of June 2021 to 88.8% at the end of December 2021.”

Currently, around 71% of vehicles in Bristol pass the criteria to enter the CAZ free-of-charge. Motorists are encouraged to check if their vehicles are deemed suitable for the zone by using an online vehicle checker. Cars, taxis and vans will face £9 daily charges while HGVs, coaches and buses could be hit with daily £100 fines - all fines are to be paid within six days.

The council insists “people will not receive written notification or any kind of alert that they have entered Bristol’s Clean Air Zone or that a payment is due. Individuals and businesses are fully responsible for managing this”. If CAZ charges are not paid on time, people may be issued with a Penalty Charge Notice of £120, reduced to £60 if it is paid within 14 days.

However, Birmingham World has covered the city’s CAZ, reporting numberous errors ranging from ambulances being charged for entering the zone, mistaken numberplates and drivers across the UK being charged despite not entering Birmingham. The leader of Birmingham Council, Ian Ward, was made to apologise to a woman in January after she was fined 19 times for driving in a clean air zone despite her never having done so and living 160 miles away - none of these errors are referenced in Bristol City Council’s post.