How crafty motorists can avoid Bristol’s Clean Air Zone - despite parking in it at Cabot Circus

There is a way to use the car park without paying the CAZ charge

Bristol drivers will be able to enter Cabot Circus’ car park inside the Clear Air Zone (CAZ) - but avoid paying for it. It is the latest quirk to emerge ahead of the zone coming into play on November 28.

The zone is being introduced by the city council in a bid to help improve air quality by encouraging the use of cleaner vehicles. Over the past month cameras have been going up at the main entrances to the zone, which covers much of the city centre.

And the boundary of the zone has led to some interesting questions. Last week we covered the residential road in Southville split by the outline. Today, we look at Cabot Circus car park which, despite being inside the zone, does provide a loophole for non-compliant vehicle owners wishing to park up and avoid paying the charge. But leave the wrong exit, and they will be charged.

Cabot Circus and its car park are both based inside the zone. But the Houlton Street side entrance and exit are just out of the CAZ’s reach. A spokesperson for the shopping centre confirmed to Bristol World that non-compliant vehicles will be able to use the car park without paying the charge by using this entrance/exit. But if a car goes out the Newfoundland or Bond Street South exits, they will be charged.

The spokesperson for Cabot Circus said: “The Cabot Circus Car Park sits within the Bristol Clean Air Zone. The Newfoundland entrance and exit, which is the main entrance to the car park, and the Bond Street South exits are all within the Clean Air Zone and by using these entrances and exits, customers will be taken through the Clean Air Zone.

“The entrance into the car park via Houlton Street sits outside the Clean Air Zone. By turning left when exiting the car park via Houlton Street, customers are led into the Clean Air Zone, turning right, towards Lawrence Hill, will lead visitors away from the Zone.”

They added: “If the vehicle is not compliant and you enter or exit the car park via the CAZ you will have to pay the daily charge. If your vehicle is not compliant and you enter and exit the car park outside of the CAZ (via Houlton Street and only by turning right towards Lawrence Hill upon exit) you will not have to pay the daily charge (depending on which route you take to reach Cabot Circus).

Drivers using the Houlton Street entrance and exit to enter Cabot Circus car park could avoid CAZ charges.

“Obviously, it depends on where customers decide to drive before and after leaving this entrance/exit and will determine whether drivers have to pay the charge.”

Last week Bristol City Council confirmed a Special Payment Offer scheme will initially let off any driver who has entered the zone with a vehicle which does not meet the CAZ criteria - but from January 9, they will be slapped with a potential £120 fine. This fine will be lowered to £60 if the original charge is paid within a week.

The city council says 71% of vehicles already meet the zone’s emission standards, which are Euro 6 (diesel) and Euro 4 (petrol) for cars, vans and minibuses. More on the minimum standards here. The charges for driving into CAZ without a compliant vehicle start at £9 per day.