Diesel ban for Bristol approved

Bristol will become the first city in the UK to ban diesel cars from its streets, to tackle illegal levels of air pollution. Bristol City Council voted for the plans to remove privately-owned diesel cars from the city centre between 7am and 3pm each day.

The proposed scheme still needs government approval, but is set to start in 2021. Any diesel vehicles entering the zone within that time will incur a fine. Vehicles such as those used by the emergency services will be exempt from penalties, while commercial vehicles will have to pay to enter the area.

In what is a wide-reaching zone, the areas impacted will include part of the M32, Redcliffe, the Harbourside, Spike Island, part of Hotwells, and the city centre, as well as the main hospitals in Bristol. The is also a Clean Air Zone proposed that would reach further out from the centre.

Number plate recognition systems will be used to enforce the system, though details of how much fines are set to be are yet to be decided. Should the zone come into force in 2021, it is expected that air pollution levels will drop to compliant levels by 2025.

Other cities have discussed implementing clean air zones banning the use of certain cars and London already has an Ultra Low Emission Zone in place, fining those cars that don't reach certain Euro Missions standards. The Bristol plans look to be a blanket ban on all diesel vehicles, regardless of whether they meet the latest emissions regulations or not.

There are arguments for and against the plans, with an improvement in air quality in the city centre largely undisputed. However, the blanket diesel ban - whilst allowing older, more polluting petrol vehicles in - has been suggested to be too simplistic, and a more sophisticated system would improve air quality sooner.

NGC believes that the best way to improve air quality in urban areas is to move to electric vehicles, and it is hoped that the ban will add further impetus to those considering EVs in the region to make the transition.

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Chris Lilly

Author:Chris Lilly
Date Updated:6th Nov 2019

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