Delayed Bristol Clean Air Zone set to launch ‘in November’, Mayor reveals

Nearly a year later than originally planned

Bristol’s Clean Air Zone could come into force as late as November, the city’s mayor has revealed.

The scheme (CAZ), which will see owners of non-compliant cars charged £9 to drive into the city, was due to launch in September, around nine months later than originally planned - and has been pushed back again.

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No specific launch date has ever been given, but a press conference this morning (June 22) Bristol Mayor Marvin Rees said that Bristol City Council was now ‘looking at November’.

He blamed the Government for the stream of delays, adding: “This is a national scheme that we’re implementing locally.

“[The Council] do our bit, we work out whether we’re going for a category C or D Clean Air Zone, work on the support package and get mitigations in place. But the infrastructure itself has to be delivered by the Government.”

Mr Rees said there had been issues that had contributed to the hold-up, such as ‘issues’ obtaining equipment needed to implement the CAZ, but the Council would ‘continue to do it best in the face of that’.

However, Mr Rees went on to say he didn’t expect the delay would have an impact on the ‘date of compliance’, which requires the city’s air pollution to fall within legal NO₂ limits in ‘the shortest time possible’.

He told the conference: “This is because you begin to drive behaviour change from the moment [the scheme] is announced.

“Remember, a CAZ is not like a congestion zone. Congestion zones are there to stop cars or vehicles going into specific areas.

“A CAZ is designed to change behaviours. So if people begin to change their vehicles through the money we've raised, such as the public sector changing their fleets, you already begin to drive the changes the CAZ is designed to deliver.

“You could say congestion charge is a traffic intervention, a Clean Air Zone is a public health intervention - and public health is about social policy and personal behaviours as well.”

Building homes on brownfield sites has always been high on the agenda for the Mayor, and he explained how those developments will tie in with the Clean Air Zone.

He said: “In terms of delivering clean air, it is about what we do around people as they travel around now - but it's also about how we design Bristol to be able to cope with the growing population.

“If we sprawl as a city people will be car-dependent and from congestion to air quality, it will all go in the wrong direction.

“That's why focusing on brownfield sites in the middle of the city within active travel distance of the main retail, employment and enterainment hubs is so important.

“So all those sites that are coming through such Bedmister Green, Western Harbour, Temple Quarter, Castle Park View for example, are essential to building out car dependency and building out those systems and behaviours that threaten our air quality.”