Bristol’s Clean Air Zone rules ‘not thought through’ as half of taxis have applications rejected

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Bristol’s CAZ rules will come into effect later this year

Almost half of taxis to apply for grants to replace their motors to operate within Bristol’s clean air zone (CAZ) have been rejected for not meeting the criteria, a freedom of information request has found.

Just under a fifth of lorry drivers have also had applications to replace LGVs or HGVs rejected by Bristol City Council ahead of the November 28 rule change.

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The council has been awarded £42million from the Government to support a transition from older, more polluting vehicles, to more eco-friendly models.

Of this, a £32million kitty has been earmarked for lorry drivers, cabbies, and other private hire businesses to upgrade or face fines ranging from £9 - £100 per day for travelling in the designated CAZ.

Julius Mall, of Bedminster-based minicab firm Club Cars, believes the grant process had not been properly thought through and likens it to when Bristol cabs were made to change to their now familiar blue paint jobs.

He said: “Business is slow, thanks to companies like Uber, and drivers just can’t afford to buy new cars.

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“Drivers need more support up front – you can’t just go and buy a £25,000 hybrid car without some help.

“They just haven’t thought of anything. They want us to drive hybrid and electric cars, but they’re behind with building chargers.

“It reminds me of 15 years ago, when the council said they wanted all taxis sprayed Bristol blue. We were just expected to go and spend £3,000 to respray our cabs.

“These grants just haven’t been thought out. They just throw things at us without thinking about it. The council should have just said, ‘Times are tough, we can’t help,’ if money was so tight.”

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A map of Bristol Clean Air Zone.A map of Bristol Clean Air Zone.
A map of Bristol Clean Air Zone.

Up to 75,000 drivers, in cars, taxis, vans, and lorries, are expected to face charges when the CAZ comes into effect.

Another £7.7million in funding will be allocated to both drivers who need to change their vehicles and to help residents switch to public transport or cycling through free electric bike loans, cycle training and free bus tickets.

Up to £1,500 in grants is available for those wanting to swap to a hybrid car and up to £4,500 for van drivers.

The council revealed in its FOI response that 5,181 applications for funding had been received by 23 August but 1,177, 22%, had been rejected.

For more information on the financial support available visit

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