Bristol city centre to ban diesel cars by 2021

For 8 hours a day all privately owned diesel vehicles will be prohibited from entering parts of Bristol City centre as part of proposed move to cut air pollution. The plan also includes a wider clean air zone (CAZ), which will be chargeable for all vehicles. The scheme is due to start in 2021.

Mayor Marvin Rees told the council:

“We have a moral, we have an ecological and we have a legal duty to clean up the air we breathe.”

What is it?

The ban, approved by Bristol City Council, will mean diesel cars will not be allowed in a central zone from 7am through till 3pm. Any vehicles, apart from taxis and emergency services, will incur a fine if they are guilty of wandering into the area.

The size of the fine is yet to be confirmed, although it is thought councillors have considered a £60 penalty.

Who does it affect?

In short, anyone with a diesel-powered vehicle. Lorries, vans, buses and taxis will pay a daily fee to enter both zones. Smaller vehicles, taxis and vans, will pay £9 per day with buses and HGVs being charged £100 per day. Private diesel cars won’t be charged to enter the wider clean air zone but will not be allowed in the centre.

Will anyone be exempt?

It is currently unknown who will be exempt from the plan. However, there are a number of exceptions that the council might be considering. For example, blue badge holders and low-income households living inside the diesel ban car zone may be exempt from the ban. Some vehicles including home-to-school buses, historic vehicles and specialist vehicles are also being considered for exemption.

How are people reacting?

The plan is welcomed by some and not so much by others, which was to be expected. Many people believe something needed to be done with the amount of air pollution we face. However, others fear the plans are too complicated and will ultimately just make other areas of the city more polluted.

Looking at replies to Bristol City Council’s tweet about the plans, its seems fair to say the majority of Twitter users are firmly in the ‘against’ camp. One Twitter user replied to the plans saying:

“Utter madness, you at least need to bring this in in 2023 to allow people who have just leased cars on a 4 year deal to change them…”

Another user said:

“What about euro6 cars?? They are classed as zero emissions, they are cleaner than petrol engines, the emissions are neutralised before expulsion from exhaust…”

It’s been noted that people on low incomes could be hit the hardest. Claire Hiscott, Conservative councillor commented:

“If you need to get to the hospital and you have a diesel vehicle you will face a hefty fine if you cross that zone in an emergency.”

Although we can see her point, there will surely be an appeals process similar to that for other parking and traffic fines where a fine can be scrapped in these sort of situations. Let’s face it, it’s no more complicated than any of the plans outlined above!

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