Clean Air Zone: Doctor says ‘unacceptable’ delay to scheme is impacting people’s health

‘Every delay is more harm to the citizens of Bristol’

A city doctor has voiced concerns over the impact of delays to the Clean Air Zone (CAZ) in Bristol on the local population’s health.

Bedminster GP and climate activist, Dr Patrick Hart, aged 36, said it was ‘crazy’ that he was treating patients for conditions like respiratory illness, and then sending ‘back into the environment that made them sick in the first place’.

He has urged Bristol City Council to roll out the scheme as quickly as possible.

The CAZ - a system for charging polluting vehicles - was supposed to come into force by October 29 last year. But a string of delays had meant it will not now start until November 28.

Speaking to BristolWorld, Dr Hart, of Bridge View Medical in St John’s Road, urged the council to get on with implentation of the scheme.

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Dr Patrick Hart, of Bridge View Medical, has urged the city council to delay the start of the Clean Air Zone no longer

The member of Doctors for Extinction Rebellion said: “Nitrogen dioxide and particulates, PM 2.5, you can’t see them, you can’t smell them, you can’t taste them.

“But whenever you go into the centre of Bristol, you’re breathing them in and they are harming pretty much every organ in your body. That is a fact and has to change.

“That we’re still breathing in harmful levels of these substances every day is totally unacceptable.”

He added: “I’m treating patients for respiratory illness, kidney disease, heart disease, for diseases of the brain, dementia, and then I’m sending them back out into the very environment of Bristol that’s making them sick in the first place. And that, is crazy.

“That’s not just from me, that’s from the country’s leading expert in health inequalities, and I completely respect this in Marvin Rees, that is something he’s very interested in, the most deprived people in Bristol.

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A map of Bristol Clean Air Zone.

“But these are the people being harmed because they have to breathe in the same air, we all have to breathe the air, there’s no way around that.

“Every delay is more harm to the citizens of Bristol, so my gut instinct would be, deal with the problems as they arise.

“If you go by the available evidence, every time a deadline looms it’s delayed a bit longer, so I have to assume that may well happen again. I’ll believe it when I see it.”

The zone was originally approved for October 2021 following a damning 2019 report ordering Bristol’s illegally high levels of air pollution, contributing to 300 excess deaths each year, be reduced by the end of 2023.

Mr Rees recently stated his belief that he city remains on track for compliance, despite the CAZ launch already being postponed three times in the last 12 months.

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BristolWorld has contacted Bristol City Council for a response but none has yet been issued.