Bristol City Council could ban diesel cars from the city centre by 2021 to reduce air pollution. The measure would join a congestion charge for commercial vehicles covering taxis, lorries and buses.
If approved, Bristol will be the first city in the UK to implement a wholesale ban on diesel cars. London’s ULEZ, for example, only charges non-compliant vehicle users for entry.
The latest suggestion is a more extreme version of a plan to ban diesel cars during peak hours. This was originally separate to Bristol’s proposed commercial vehicle congestion zone, but combining them could bring nitrogen oxide (NOx) levels down to within EU-mandated limits sooner. The previous plan would have seen those levels reduced to a satisfactory level no sooner than 2028.
The zone banning diesel cars would be ‘small’, while the area charging commercial vehicle drivers would be larger.
A decision on the plan is expected soon: the plan will put before the council on 5 November.
“These ambitious plans demonstrate our commitment to tackling air pollution so we meet legal limits within the shortest time, without disproportionately affecting citizens on lower incomes which would happen with a blanket approach to charging vehicles,” said Bristol mayor, Marvin Rees.
“Protecting the most vulnerable people from pollution is central to these plans and we have ensured that all impacts have been carefully considered. If approved, mitigation measures will support those most affected, especially those living in the most deprived communities.”
What will take diesel’s place?
Nicholas Lyes, head of roads policy at the RAC, has warned of an “unprecedented impact” on drivers reliant on their diesel cars, especially given how major routes in the area will be affected. He also warns of an underdeveloped public transport system unable to pick up the slack.
“Some drivers of diesel cars who are locked into finance packages may face a significant penalty to exit their contract early. There will also be drivers of older vehicles who are faced with having to give up their vehicles and switch to something different – which could be extremely costly.
How will those with diesel vehs they can’t afford to replace be affected? How will those in south Bristol get to the M32 or M5? Will scrappage be for those on finance deals or still unable to afford a new car? Questions, questions… https://t.co/CZOP6euEWX
— Rod Dennis (@Rhodos) October 29, 2019
“Bristol has bold plans to improve its public transport system, but major improvements like its mooted rapid transit system or even more park-and-ride sites are still many years from becoming a reality.
“In the meantime, many drivers are faced with having to use their car for journeys in and around the city simply because there are no affordable, reliable alternatives. This would become more difficult under these plans.”