Clean Air Zone ruled out for South Gloucestershire over ‘limited’ impact

Clean Air Zone ruled out for South Gloucestershire over ‘limited’ impact

South Gloucestershire Council has ruled out introducing a Clean Air Zone because of its “limited” impact on reducing pollution – but is considering giving more road space to public transport and cycle lanes.

When the local authority opened a consultation on a clean air action plan for the next four years, officials said a clean air zone – which can prompt owners of more polluting vehicles to enter a zone – would not be appropriate for the area.

They said the measure would not fit with the council’s broader plan to reduce pollution across South Gloucestershire and ultimately help council leaders achieve carbon neutral status by 2030.

Instead, the clean air action plan includes a total of 30 measures, mainly aimed at reducing transport emissions in the region. These include considering limiting the number of parking spaces for new developments, reducing road speeds and freeing up road space for bus and cycle lanes.

Improving lighting along the Bristol to Bath railway line and helping schools introduce park and walking paths are also on the plan, which highlights the importance of the challenge by providing figures showing that every year 217 People in government areas are dying due to air pollution.

The plan also says that 102 NO2 pollution monitoring stations measured levels below World Health Organization guidelines in 2019 and 92 in 2020. Prior focus was on Staple Hill and the A420 from Kingswood to Warmley and in particular Hill Street where the highest NO2 concentration was recorded.

But to address the problem with a Clean Air Zone, as in Bristol, the idea was dropped. Explaining why the idea was not pursued further, council officials said: “A CAZ is not appropriate for South Gloucestershire given the limited extent of exceedance of the pollution targets.

“It will take a lot of time to develop and approve a CAZ and in that time the vehicles will be cleaner. The Clean Air Action Plan focuses more broadly on reducing pollution in South Gloucestershire, beyond basic compliance with air pollution targets.”

The M4 runs through South Gloucestershire on the outskirts of Bristol – but no Clean Air Zone is introduced

A clear air zone is a designated area where measures to reduce air pollution are implemented. Typically this is done by applying a daily charge to more polluting vehicles, although there are four types of CAZ ranging from Class A to D. Each band calculates a specific group of vehicles. For example, Bristol’s CAZ is Class D and charges £9 for cars and taxis, while lorries, buses and coaches are £100 per day. Bath has a Class C zone where private hire cars and taxis, lorries, coaches and buses are subject to tolls.

Most of the nitrogen oxide comes from traffic. In South Gloucestershire, council officials, who wrote in the Clean Air Action Plan, said car use was a “major challenge”, adding: “South Gloucestershire can experience severe traffic congestion at peak times. Traffic on South Gloucestershire roads has increased by 30% since 1991, but within the North Fringe of Bristol traffic has increased by 50%.

“The public transport system has improved, but traffic congestion continues to have a negative impact on bus travel times and reliability42. Many short journeys are also still made by car and there is a lot of potential to cover these on foot or by bike and to cover the longer journeys by public transport or to break them up with intermediate stations such as park and rides and sustainable transport hubs.

“The measures presented in this Clean Air Action Plan are intended to target the dominant sources of emissions in South Gloucestershire, over which the Council has a degree of control.”

To view or comment on the Clean Air Action Plan, click here. The consultation ends on January 31st.

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