Potential timescales for reducing nitrogen dioxide pollution to legal levels in Bristol

New technical data indicating how quickly two proposed options could reduce Bristol air pollution to legal levels has been published.

Bristol City Council is consulting on two options for a Traffic Clean Air Zone, which aim to reduce harmful nitrogen dioxide (NO2) levels in the shortest time possible. The consultation launched on 1 July and continues until Monday 12 August 2019.

Reducing air pollution to legal levels is also known as ‘reaching compliance’ and the new technical work indicates all areas of the city would meet these levels by 2029 for Option 1 of the ongoing consultation and by 2028 for Option 2. Because of how close together these dates are, more technical modelling on each option is needed to reach a definite view on which option would reach compliance in the shortest possible time.

The council is consulting on what work to date showed to be the quickest methods to reach compliance. The unexpected predicted lateness of the overall compliance dates has prompted the council to further review available options. This is part of due diligence and will provide assurance about the speed of compliance. If an option is found which increases the speed of compliance, the council would consider the need to consult people further. The council is committed, and legally bound, to implement the option which reduces pollution within legal limits as soon as it can.

The majority of roads in Bristol are predicted to meet compliant levels before the two dates suggested by the technical report. Two locations – Marlborough Street and Church Road – are estimated to take longer than the others. In Option 1, Marlborough Street is the sole street holding back the compliance date until 2029. The roads affecting compliance dates in the modelling are:

LocationOption 1Option 2
Upper Maudlin Street20212023
Park Row20212022
Queen’s Road20222021
College Green20242025
Newfoundland Way20252025
Rupert Street20262026
Park Street20262026
Church Road20272028
Marlborough Street20292028

Other UK cities are also working to protect people from harmful pollution. To address it effectively and fairly we need citizens, businesses and visitors to come together in a way that we’ve never done so before. As a start, please engage with us on this ongoing consultation and share your views on the two options before 12 August.

The latest technical work shows the scale and complexity of reducing air pollution in Bristol in the shortest time possible. We cannot solve this problem instantly, as much as we’d like to. It’s going take widespread, progressive improvement across the city, involving everyone. The data indicates, as expected, some locations will take longer than others to reach legal levels, but this doesn’t mean air quality will not be continually improving in Bristol. We remain committed to implementing a solution as soon as we possibly can.

Of course this process is part of a much wider collection of actions we are taking to tackling the issue of air quality. Alongside it we are negotiating a new bus deal for the city, we’re looking at closing roads around schools during drop-off and pick-up times, and we are transforming the city’s relationship with energy through our City Leap project, a series of energy and infrastructure investment opportunities. But as much as we’re doing, we need to be empowered and funded to do more. We continue to press government for the investment, legislation and focus we need to make it easier rather than more difficult to deliver meaningful change.

Marvin Rees, Mayor of Bristol

In the air quality directive, the European Union has set limits for NO2 to protect people’s health. The annual average of NO2 must not exceed 40 micrograms per cubic metre (µg/m3). In the latest technical work, predicted pollution levels are published for both options the council is consulting on at nine locations in Bristol, which currently record illegal NO2levels.

For more detail, please visit our online consultation hub to read a technical document produced by the council’s engineering consultant Jacobs and a summary sheet with essential information.

The council is calling for views from everyone living, working and visiting Bristol on its Traffic Clean Air Zone consultation. For more details about these options and to give your views, go to www.bristol.gov.uk/trafficcleanairzone

A reminder of the two options:

Option 1: Clean Air Zone (private cars not charged)

A zone where more polluting buses, coaches, taxis, heavy (HGVs) and light goods vehicles (LGVs) would be charged for each day they are driven in the zone. Taxis and LGVs would be charged £9 per day. HGVs, coaches and buses £100.

Option 1 would also include:

  • a 24-hour a day, seven day a week HGV weight restriction on the worst polluted routes;
  • A diesel car ban on Upper Maudlin Street and Park Row running from St James Barton roundabout to Park Street between 7am and 3pm, seven days a week (this would not apply to taxis/private hire or emergency services);
  • Bus and local traffic changes in the most polluting areas including an inbound bus lane on the M32, an inbound bus lane on Cumberland Road and using existing traffic signals to control the amount of traffic entering congested areas with poor air quality;
  • A scrappage scheme (up to £2,000) for diesel cars. This would provide a grant towards a newer cleaner vehicle or an alternative mode of transport (e.g. bus travel or purchasing a bike).

Option 2: Diesel car ban

Banning all diesel cars from driving in a specific central area (small zone) from 7am to 3pm, seven days a week (this would not apply to taxis/private hire or emergency services). Other measures, including a scrappage scheme, could also be included.

The council is continuing to hold a number of drop-in sessions to give the public the opportunity to discuss the options in more detail.

Malcolm X Community Centre

141 City Road, St Pauls, BS2 8YH

Tuesday 30 July, 2.30pm-7.30pm

City Hall (Vestibule)

Just off Park Street towards main entrance

Tuesday 6 August, 2.30pm-6.30pm

Press release by Bristol City Council.